Top 10 MAC Products You Should Try (At Least Once!)

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Often I am asked questions like “what’s good from _insert brand here_?” or “is _brand name_ the best?”. I always tell them there’s good and bad products from every brand. But then the follow-up question is what are the good things to try? With those questions in mind, here are my top 10 MAC products you should try.

1. Cremesheen Lipstick in Modesty

Modesty is one of those super easy to wear, never fail colors. It’s a my lips but better nude (MAC says “muted neutral pink”). Great for job interviews or to pair with a smoky eye.

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2. Brush #217

The #217 brush is a white goat filbert brush and absolutely one of my most-used makeup brushes. It’s just the perfect size and shape for sweeping color over the lids. I love it so much I have 2. It is a total bitch to keep clean, though!

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3. Fix+

Fix+ is a product beloved by the masses and misunderstood by about as many. It’s a mist charged up with caffeine, glycerin, cucumber, and other skin-friendly ingredients. It works well to refresh your skin throughout the day. I also like to use it to “super charge” my moisturizer – spritz it on and massage the moisturizer in on top of it while your skin is still wet for an extra boost. It can also be used to spray down powder to make it meld with the skin better and faster.

4. Mineralize Blush in Warm Soul

The combination of the semi-translucent mineralize blush formula and its buildable nature with the perfectly toned beige of this blush make for the perfect nude cheek. It has a warm gold pearl that goes on soft and pretty– not garish or overly shiny! I’ve yet to see this blush fail anyone.

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5. Pigments

Pigments are just that – loose concentrated pigments. They have a ton of different uses. Vanilla makes a great highlight (for eyes, cheeks, anywhere really). There are tons of great eye color shades. Others can be mixed with lip colors for really cool effects, too. Melon looks great on the cheeks, eyes, or lips. Tan or Naked pigment can even be mixed in with a body lotion for a gleaming, glowy effect on your skin.

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6. Cleanse-Off Oil

Don’t be scurred to put this oil on your face; it’s one of the good guys! Start with dry skin and hands, and massage a couple pumps of this oil cleanser into your skin. The cleansing oil will dissolve the makeup and melt it off as you watch. Then rinse with water to let it emulsify and rinse clean. It’s 100% free of any mineral oil. There’s no residue, either. Yay! Bonus: there’s also Cleanse-Off Oil Tranquil for especially dry or sensitive skin. I want to try that one when I finish my bottle.

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7. Mineralize Volcanic Ash Exfoliator

I swear the first time I used the first release of volcanic ash exfoliator, a choir of angels sang at me in the shower. Okay maybe not, but I friggin love this scrub. If you’re having a breakout anywhere on your face or body, it does a great job of scrubbing away while drying up any over zealous oil production and nipping that nasty zit in the bud. But not just for acne sufferers, I use the VAE even when I’m not having skin problems. It’s just a darn good exfoliator too. It gets any yuck outta your pores and leaves your skin baby-butt smooth.

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8. 209 Eyeliner Brush

If you want to draw an uber-fine line with a teensy brush that not only has a fine tip, but holds its shape, you’ll fall in love with the 209. It’s SUPER tiny, but doesn’t splay out or fatten up after you use it. It stays sleek and teensy tiny. If you have smaller eyes and/or just want to be able to do a very thin line, you’ll fall in love.

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9. Fast Response Eye Cream

If you need to de-puff and wake up your eye area in a hurry, Fast Response lives up to its name. It has caffeine for an extra perk-up. If you need an extra boost of moisture to your lips, try Fast Response to plump up lines and moisten lips, too.

10. Eyeshadow in Patina

I hear more buzz about colors like All That Glitters, or Naked Lunch, or a plethora of other colors. But trust me, the one everyone needs to try is Patina. MAC describes Patina as “taupe brown with gold pearl”. TAUPE. PEARL. Duh. You need to try it at least once.

Have you tried any of these MAC products? What’s on your “must-try” list?

The Best Drugstore Skin Care Products

Welcome to cheap thrills – drugstore edition! While I’m an advocate of splurging whenever you can on skin care – because you DO get what you pay for when it comes to skin care, that doesn’t mean nothing in the drugstore is worth trying. Au contraire! There are also quite a few inexpensive gems to be found there.

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#1 – Fruit of the Earth 100% Pure Aloe Vera Gel

I ALWAYS have this on hand. Aloe is a soothing, cooling moisturizer that won’t upset your skin. It’s great for those of you who are prone to redness as well. My only caution is keep it away from your eyes. It tends to make my eyes sting/water if I get it anywhere near my eyes at all. Available in a mini size bottle for $1 at most drugstores.

#2 – Freeman Face Masks & Scrubs

Hi, jr high called, and said to remind you THAT CHEAPASS DRUGSTORE MASK WAS THE SHIT! And you know what, they still make it! And tons more! Freeman masks are the TRUTH. I haven’t met one yet that I didn’t love! The cucumber peel-off mask is delightfully gross (if you are the kind of person that enjoys peeling dried elmers glue off of yourself, you’ll love this…), and have you even imagined anything more decadent than a chocolate strawberry detox mask? These suckers are available at Ulta, drugstores, and online (for the whole huge selection, go there!) at freemanbeauty.com from $1.99 to $3.99 each.

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#3 – Neutrogena Acne Stress Control Line

There are 6 products in Neutrogena’s Acne Stress Control line and they’re all pretty fan-effing-tastic. They’re formulated with salicylic acid (chemical exfoliant and known acne zapper) as well as soothing cucumber. Zaps zits effectively, and cheaply. If you have dry skin you’ll want to either use lots of extra moisturizer, or only use this every other day. Each product in the line is $6-$7 at drugstores.

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#4 – Epielle Facial Cleansing Tissues

These face wipes are the bomb dot com. They come in several varieties in addition to the “original” cleansing wipe, including Aloe, Cucumber, Citrus, and Green Tea! Green Tea are my personal favorite, but they’re all amazing. Not sure where to find these? Big Lots is a sure bet. A pack of 24-30 will run you a whopping dollar.

#5 – Garnier Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream

Duh, this product made my favorites! And I gave it a good review! So you know it’s going on my best of drugstore skin care list. Lazy person version of my review: it’s surprisingly great, more gel than cream, and is as refreshing as advertised! It’s about $8 or $9 at the drug store.

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#6 – Yes To Blueberries Age Refresh Intensive Skin Repair Serum

Lest you think you can’t get skin care that goes beyond basic cleansing at the drugstore – voila! Yes To Blueberries has this nifty little serum for a mere $20. This serum is chock full of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and more goodness to help prevent signs of aging. It also smells good, so if you’re not into the science-y part of skin care, there’s that.

There are countless other products I could get into from the drugstore that are equally fab if not moreso than their high end counterparts. Have you tried any of the six products I mentioned above? Which are your fav cheap thrills in skin care?

April Favorites

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Sure it’s a week in to May already, but I’m telling you my April favorites dammit. And you’re gonna like it. Maybe. Or something?

Not a ton of color things this month because I’ve been all about skin care recently! As you may or may not have read, I’m obsessed with Urban Decay’s B6 Spray (see my review here). That’s definitely been a favorite. I use it every single day before I apply my makeup, and sometimes in between as a little boost, or afterwards to calm my skin down even more. ($33, Urban Decay)

I’ve also been really enjoying the Garnier Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream. I still feel weird calling it a cream, because it’s totally not. But it’s still a great moisturizer even if you have sensitive skin like mine. I like the refreshing scent too. It’s very “spa” to me. In case you missed it, my review is here(~$10, Drugstores)

If you’re in the market for a fan-friggin-tastic spot treatment, do check out Murad’s Acne Spot Treatment. The active ingredient is sulphur, which I find way more effective than salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. It’s also much more gentle on my skin than spot treatments made with those ingredients. It works beautifully, even though it smells kinda funky. A little goes a long way, so the tube will last you a while. Just keep in mind the expiration date (usually about a year is par for the course for these types of products). ($17, Ulta)

Two other secret weapons I’ve been relying on for the past month are Proactiv’s Refining Mask and Origins’ Clear Improvement charcoal mask. I’ve been tag-teaming my skin with these two masks to try and keep my pores as clear as possible. Both masks also make my skin soft and smooth. The charcoal mask from Origins is better for dry skin, gently removing impurities from pores. The ProActiv mask has an active ingredient of 6% sulphur and contains kaolin clay to absorb oil. (Origins Clear Improvement mask is $24 from Sephora, Proactiv Refining Mask is available from proactiv.com and Proactiv boutique kiosques).

I’ve been using and enjoying Urban Decay’s Naked Skin Beauty Balm, too! It functions as a primer with a bit of coverage too. It’s weird, even though it only gives you a little coverage, the “optical blurring” effects truly make it look like you have more coverage than you actually do. Does that make sense? I don’t know. But it’s pretty magical. See my full review here($34, Urban Decay) Whether I’m just wearing the UD BB cream or doing a full face, I have been setting my makeup with Urban Decay’s Naked Skin Ultra Definition Loose Finishing Powder. The first time I felt this powder I literally said “holy shit” out loud. It’s sooooo silky smooth. Just a little bitty bit is needed to set your makeup and give it a smooth finish. ($34, Urban Decay)

Color-wise, my Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey has been a constant staple in my purse. How many favorites posts have I mentioned it in?? I wear it a few times a week. I can’t stress enough how much I love this lip. Mine doesn’t even have any lettering on the pencil anymore because I’ve used it so many times the lettering has worn off! These are so comfortable to wear, and the colors last forever. The particular shade Honey goes with a ton of different looks. If you like colors like MAC’s Viva Glam V, you should definitely check this chubby pencil out. You won’t be sorry. Plus, it’s super cheap. ($8, Drugstores)

A few days ago, I finished up my second Senna Sketch-a-Brow pencil. I’m sad because it’s gone, but happy because it happened. Does that sound like an InstaQuote? I’ve tried a lot of brow pencils that I like and enjoy, but I’ve never used up two of any one kind except Senna’s. On the one hand, I want to go out and buy more immediately. On the other, I’m hesitant because I apparently go through brow pencils super fast. I mean I just bought that thing the first week of March! It’s hard to decide. Bloggers have such weird problems. ;) ($18, Senna Cosmetics)

After finishing my last tube of my beloved Maybelline The Rocket mascara, I received a sample of Rimmel ScandalEyes Retro Glam to try. Great news – I really like this mascara! It agrees with my eyes well (certain mascaras irritate the crap out of my eyes). It’s buildable, it’s really black, it doesn’t clump. Every once and a while if it’s really hot conditions it will smudge slightly, but it’s over all really solid. I would definitely purchase it again sometime. ($7, Drugstores)

And there you go! Those were my favorites during the month of April. What were you loving on in April?

You Need This: Urban Decay B6 Complexion Prep Spray

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I’m guessing many of you, like me, have heard a lot about various sprays. There’s lots of them out there. They range from literally just a can of water to highly beneficial skin care at the touch of a spray nozzle. When Urban Decay launched its b6 Vitamin-Infused Complexion Prep Spray, I’ll admit I didn’t give it much thought. Oh, water with some vitamins in it, blah blah blah. That’s all I thought it was.

I must not be alone. The Urban Decay website pretty much speaks to that exact reaction. The product description reads: “It’s one of those products you didn’t even know you needed. (But once you try it, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without it!)”.

They aren’t wrong. I am SO hooked on this spray! After switching off my birth control rx, my skin understandably went a little wonky. Along with some other things (which I will be reviewing as well!), adding the b6 spray to my skin care routine has helped calm everybody down. The redness reducing claim of this spray really rings true. Other claims it makes are that it hydrates (check!), reduces pore size (I guess?), and absorbs excess oil/reduces shine. I don’t have a huge shine issue or pore size issue so I’m not sure how much it does that…but it doesn’t hurt anything. And it doesn’t dry me out in its attempt to absorb excess oil. It just hydrates and makes my skin feel so much more CALM. There’s a bunch of natural salicylic acid in there too, to help in cell turnover (hi, exfoliation – that thing everyone says is super good for you!).

Go. Do. Buy. Use. LOVE. I’m not even kidding. Get some, and thank me.

Urban Decay B6 Vitamin-Infused Complexion Prep Spray is available at Urban Decay (and all other places UD is sold) for $33.

Urban Decay Naked Skin Beauty Balm Review

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I know I’m kind of late to the game reviewing Urban Decay Naked Skin Beauty Balm, but you know…better late than pregnant. Anywho, late or not, I have recently been wearing the UD BB after a suggestion from Bren of OMG Bren. My skin has been super dry lately, and she suggested I wear a good BB cream under my foundation. Since my foundation of choice is UD Naked Skin, this seemed a logical choice!

It claims to:

- hydrate instantly
- improve hydration over time
- make makeup go on nicely
- make makeup last longer
- protect with SPF 20 (broad spectrum)
- instantly even out skin tone
- instantly minimize pores, lines, wrinkles, and redness
- treats skin to firm, improve elasticity, and provide “measurable anti-aging benefits”

Urban Decay Naked Skin Beauty Balm contains some new to me ingredients. Pepha®-Protect helps protect your skin cells against daily stress. Uh hi? I need that. Vitasource® and dGlyage® firm the skin, improve elasticity, and fight wrinkles. Not huge issues for me NOW, but hey better to prevent than to try and fix later!

At first I wasn’t all that excited about trying this because it only came in one shade. That shade has been renamed Naked Medium, and a lighter shade and darker shade (Naked Light and Naked Dark) have been added to the range. Hooray! Not surprisingly, I’m wearing Naked Light.

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Urban Decay Naked Skin Beauty Balm is not what I expected, formula-wise. I was expecting something thicker. UD’s BB is pretty runny actually. It applies very smoothly and sort of glides over the skin. Unlike other BB creams I’ve tried, I actually don’t recommend applying this like you would any other skin care. If you rub it in circles or rub too much, I find it just balls up. If you just smooth it gently in one direction, it will blend and apply beautifully. That could be because of the skin care I use beforehand, but  if you’re having similar issues try that. Apply it almost like you would a face mask type product.

After applying I definitely feel the silicone-y primer-y feeling, but it’s not as much as when I just whack on a bit of primer. Flaws are definitely blurred. As far as coverage goes, it’s not so much covering problem areas as just making them less noticeable. Red areas look less red, spots are still spots but not as glaring. It’s like a soft focus effect more than a tinted moisturizer effect of providing light coverage – which is what a lot of other BB products provide. I find that I need way less foundation/concealer when wearing this. Whereas before I had foundation and loads of concealer, today I only put on a little concealer over the beauty balm and I was good to go.

If you aren’t looking for coverage, this beauty balm will appeal to you. If you need additional actual coverage, it does make a sublime canvas for applying additional foundation/concealer. Foundation and concealer apply so nicely over the beauty balm! If you don’t wear more base over this, blush and highlighter etc. still  applied really well.

I haven’t been using it long enough to know if the long term benefits are really coming through, but wearing less concealer and foundation couldn’t ever be a bad thing. I can definitely feel a difference in hydration overall. And also, sun screen! :) This sun screen doesn’t bother my skin at all. Many of them do.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with this and have incorporated it into my everyday beauty routine! Urban Decay Naked Skin Beauty Balm is available at Sephora, Ulta, UD’s site…you know the drill, for $34.

Garnier Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Creme Review

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I was holding off on this review because I was expecting some other of the newer Garnier skin care products in the mail and was going to review them all together, but I don’t know what happened to them – they seem to have vanished! So perhaps I will review the scrub and the cleansing oil some other time. For now, I have a review of the Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream for Normal/Combo skin.

I don’t even know where to begin with my skin right now. Previously, “normal” for me was dry, but clear skin. Now it’s still normal-to-dry, but breaking out like crazy. It’s still not severe acne by any means, or probably not even moderate depending on who you ask, but going from not even really having clogged pores to having 3-4 deep under the skin zits and a handful of smaller surface pimples = PANIC at my disco. I know it was caused by a combination of hormones and a great deal of stress. This past weekend I moved house, which as you know is insanity no matter what. Anyway. Moisturizer.

I was intrigued by the idea of a “gel-creme”. It sounded like some new exotic thing. The reality is this is a gel. Not even a thick gel actually. It’s pretty darn liquidy in texture. I was kind of skeptical about it being able to moisturize well when I felt the texture. I was pleasantly surprised though. It does a decent job! A little bit goes a long way, because it’s so liquid (it spreads over your face quite easily). For me, it absorbs very quickly and leaves my skin feeling moisturized and refreshed, but not in any way greasy.

It does have a scent! The fragrance is floral-fruity and pleasant, typical of most Garnier products – if you’ve ever used any, you know this smell. I happen to love it. You may not. If you’re sensitive to fragrances, save your receipt! It dissipates though and I think it adds to the refreshment I feel when I use it.

There is also a dry skin formula that is allegedly a ‘dupe’ for Clinique Moisture Surge. I would like to try that sometime as I’ve tried samples of Clinique’s and I liked it. Also I do anticipate that once I get the hormones and the stress in check my skin will probably go back to being more dry as usual, so it’ll be good to know if I can make a switch. ;)

The price runs about $8.50 for a 1.7 oz jar, available at most drugstores. I believe I got mine from Target!

Foreo Luna Now At Sephora

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Great news! The FOREO Luna, aka my favorite skin care gadget evar, is now available at Sephora! Let’s quickly re-hash why I’m ALL about the Luna!

* No replacement brush heads (what you pay is what you pay – no added cost built in!)

*All silicone – fully rinseable – goes in the shower with you!

* Easier to keep CLEAN because there are no nooks and crevices (under the brush head of a Clarisonic = HORROR SHOW)

* Also works as anti-aging device (massage in serums with it for extra ‘wow factor’ from your serums, too)

* REALLY gentle, even for sensitive skin. (I use the delicate brush head on Clarisonic and Sensitive/Normal for Luna

* Holds a charge FOR-EV-ER. (seriously, I have had mine for MONTHS and I haven’t even charged it yet since the initial charge)

So yeah, the Luna is pretty much the most awesomest (yes, that’s a word now… bwahahaha) skin care thingy ever. And it’s at Sephora now! Which means you can earn BI points on your purchase, buy it during F&F to save $$, and if you aren’t as head over heels in love with it as I am, Sephora’s return policy is the greatest.

Anyone going to be trying out the Luna now that they’re at mama Sephora?! This thing has been life-saving/game-changing for me. When I went to BeWell Expo in October I had someone look at my skin under a microscope (which was definitely as daunting as it sounds), and she said my pores are TOTALLY clear. I owe it to this!! I was given an A+ in skin and it’s totes because of my little Luna.

Avon Product of the Week: Avon Elements Cream Cleanser

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This week’s Avon Product of the Week is from the Elements skincare line – the Elements Moisturizing Cream Cleanser. I wanted to try out some of the Avon skin care since it has been quite a while since I’ve tried any, and there’s a lot of new things to try.

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Would You Put Bee Venom On Your Face?

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You read that correctly. Bee venom. As in the stuff that makes those stingers really ‘bite’. Would you put that on your face?

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Beauty Box 5 Unboxing & First Impressions

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I was recently invited to try out Beauty Box 5, which is a subscription sampling program similar to Birchbox/Beauty Army/Ipsy/*insert other box sample program name here*. Since I recently unsubbed from Ipsy I decided heck, why not!

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