Friday, March 20, 2015

Ben Nye Luxury Powder Swatches & Review

Today I'm coming at you with a review of one of my holy grail products, the Ben Nye Luxury Powders!

These are extremely finely-milled setting powders that go on smooth and set to a beautiful matte finish. They come in 5 shades: Beige Suede, Buff, Cameo, Banana, and the newest addition, Rose Petal.

c/o  twitter @kimkardashian

These powders have been the secret weapon of makeup artists for years. They gained popularity in the mainstream market when Kim Kardashian tweeted this picture of her contour and highlight. Her highlight shade is Ben Nye Banana Powder. Since then, contouring and highlighting has taken the beauty world by storm with many brands jumping on the bandwagon and releasing similar powders.

At first, I hesitated purchasing these because I was turned off by the packaging. They used to only come in sifter jars. Basically the same idea as a baby powder jar where you sprinkle the product in the tiny cap. It looked like a giant mess to me. If a product isn't easy to use, realistically I know I just won't use it. So when I saw that the Ben Nye Luxury Powders now came in a dome jar, I pulled the trigger and purchased three shades, Banana, Rose Petal and Cameo, from CRC Makeup.

Lets start with the most famous of the Ben Nye powders, Banana. It's similar to Bare Minerals Well rested, but more yellow in tone. This is marketed as being able to suit any skin tone. It is a color corrector that can fix redness as well as neutralize blue under eye circles. I use this as a finishing powder to set my under eye concealer. Since I have a more fair skin tone this wouldn't work for me as an overall setting powder, but it would be beautiful for more tanned/olive skin tones. Olive and tanned skin tones can also use this as a highlighter, as seen on Kim in the above photo, for a brightening candlelit glow.

This is the fairest of the Luxury Powders. It is described as being micro-milled to give you that silky smooth finish, as if you were grazing your skin with rose petals. It is also pink in tone, hence the rose name. I use this as an under-eye setting powder when I want to really light up that area. It's pink color makes it an excellent brightener. If you have a very fair skin tone you could use this as an all-over setting powder.


This is a beige toned powder with a slight hint of blush. This powder gives me a slight brightening effect when worn to set my concealer. I can also use it as an all-over setting powder to my foundation. It works on my skin right now because I'm very pale, but it won't work once my skin gets a little more color in the summer months. Like the Rose and Banana powders, it lays beautifully on the skin, especially under the eyes, without giving that dry, powdery look.

Here's a side by side shot of Rose Petal (left) and Cameo (right). As you can see Rose Petal has a more prominent pink tone while Cameo has just a hint of pink.

Final Thoughts

These are amazing powders that can be used for a wide variety of tasks. They lay smoothly on the skin and do a great job in keeping me matte. I apply them with a Real Techniques Setting Brush. It's the perfect size to pat a light dusting of powder exactly where I need it.

Even though the powders are colored, they all have a translucent quality so you don't necessarily see that color on your skin once blended. They produce a natural neutralizing or brightening effect.

Have you tried any of the Ben Nye powders? How do you use them?

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Friday, March 13, 2015

MAC Cinderella Collection Picks

I wanted to share a review of the items I purchased from the new MAC Cinderella collection. This is a limited edition collection, inspired by the beloved Disney princess, to coincide with the release of the new movie, which comes out today!. I've always loved Disney so I knew I wanted to check out this collection, Here's what I picked up:

Glass Slipper Lipglass

MAC describes this color as "light milky pink with pinkish pearl".  I was worried that the sparkle in the gloss was going to be too intense, but it is actually a fine micro-shimmer that gives a 3-D iridescent glow to the lips. The base of the lipglass is a lightly pigment soft pink. My favorite way to wear this on top of a pink lipstick to amp up the finish and shine.

Mystery Princess Beauty Powder

This is a cool-toned beige beauty powder intended for highlighting. It looks a bit metallic in the pan, but I've been wearing this as my cheek highlight all week and it is much more natural than it appears at first glance. It can be applied more densely with a tapered brush to get a more noticeable shimmery effect or more sheerly with a duo fiber brush to give a soft highlight. Both give a natural glow, it just depends on how noticeable you want it to be. The texture of the powder is smooth and blended out nicely on the skin.

Final Thoughts

The quality of the two items I purchased did not disappoint and the packaging is just adorable. I love that it is that beautiful powder blue that matches Cinderella's famous dress. I purchased these online the day they went on sale, 2/26. They went on sale in stores last Thursday, so I'm getting this up a little late. Of course, in typical MAC fashion, the online supply was depleted in just a few hours, but these are still available in stores. The collection is exclusive to MAC stores and Macy's counters. I'd recommend calling your local store to check their supply if you are lusting after a specific item from the collection.

Do you have your eye on any of the MAC Cinderella items?

Friday, March 6, 2015

Coming Up Roses

There's nothing more timeless and elegant that a bouquet of fresh cut roses. Aside from the beautiful smell, roses also posses many beauty-enhancing benefits. Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, they contain soothing and nourishing qualities that help moisturize dry skin. They've also been known to stimulate collagen production to help fight aging. It's no wonder I began to notice that many of my standout beauty favorites have incorporated Roses.

Here's a roundup of my favorite rose products that will instantly transport you to the garden:

Fresh Rose Hydrating Eye Gel Cream

This is a gel-based eye cream that provides an instant burst of hydration. It is described as being able to provide up to 30 hours of continuous moisture. I use this as my day eye cream as it has a very light texture that absorbs quickly. It's one of those products that is just a joy to apply. It smells so good and my skin feels refreshed and awake after applying.

Rosebud Salve

This lip balm has a cult following and I can see why. It's a simple, moisturizing balm that isn't too thin or too thick. It provides a burst of moisture and a light shine to the lips that stays with you for hours. I use this every morning as the first step in my makeup routine and then again at night before I go to bed. It is very affordable at only $6 per tin and of course, it has a lovely light rose scent.

Mario Badescu Facial Spray

This facial spray is formulated with aloe, herbs and rosewater. It's described as a pick me up for dehydrated, tight and uncomfortable skin. I use this in two ways: as my toner after washing my face and also here and there throughout the day to add some moisture back into my skin and wake it up. I wouldn't call it a setting spray as I don't think it extends the wear of my makeup, but it does leave a beautiful finish and takes down the powdery appearance making my skin look healthy.

Lush Rose Queen Bath Bomb 

You haven't experienced a great bath until you've tried a Lush Bath Bomb. Once you drop into the tub, sit back and relax as it bubbles and fizzes dispersing rose blossoms, petals and a beautiful rose fragrance throughout the tub, leaving you skin oh so soft. An added benefit, it turns your bathwater pink! Enjoy with a glass of Rosé and embrace the Lisa Vanderpump in you.

Jo Malone Red Roses Cologne

After enjoying the rose scents in a lot of my beauty products, I thought why not get a rose scented perfume? This one from Jo Malone is a clean and simple scent that truly smells like a soft bouquet of roses through all the notes. It is also very long-lasting compared to some of the other Jo Malone colognes I've tried. It's a very feminine and timeless scent.

Seems like everything's coming up roses in the beauty world these days. Have you been gravitating towards a specific scent lately?

Shop this Post:

Jo Malone Red Roses Cologne
Fresh Rose Hydrating Eye Gel Cream
Rosebud Salve
Mario Badescu Facial Spray
Lush Rose Queen Bath Bomb

Friday, February 27, 2015

Winter Skin Saviors

Its no secret that Boston has been having a brutal winter. Besides the endless snow and winter woes, this season poses a new set of threats to your skin. The frigid temps, high winds and intense dry indoor heating can leave your skin parched, flaky and irritated.

I suffer from dry skin, especially on my forehead, year-round, but it kicks into high gear in the winter. This winter in particular has been especially terrible for my skin. Dry patches are also showing up on my cheeks and chin. I knew it was time to change up my skincare routine. Here are the products that have been helping to soothe my skin:

Nivea A Kiss of Smoothness Lip Balm

This is my daytime lip balm that I keep in my purse. I love this balm, because as the name suggests, it glides on smoothly and doesn't irritate my lips. There's no dragging or tugging, it just feels amazing to apply and it gives my lips a burst of moisture.

ELF Lip Exfoliator

This stuff is my tried and true. It isn't as nourishing as when I make my olive oil and sugar scrub but it is easy and mess free. I keep it in my medicine cabinet and use it about once a week to keep chapped lips at bay. Its gentle enough that I can use it every few days if my lips are going through a dry spell.

Yes to Grapefruit Facial Scrub

I have to be careful with facial scrubs, the more rough ones leave my skin red and irritated. This one is oh so gentle and smells amazing. It is marketed as being gentle enough to use daily. While I don't use it everyday, I use it every other day in the shower and it does a great job at sloughing away the dry patches without making my skin mad at me.

Mario Badescu Caviar Night Cream

This is a thick and luxurious night cream that is a godsend to very dry skin. I put this on at night after moisturizing and toning. It does take a long time to sink in and you do look like a grease slick after applying so I can see why this is a nighttime-only cream. When I wake up my skin is nourished and glowing and I can see a vast improvement in my dry patches.

Lush African Paradise Body Conditioner

This is an in-shower body lotion. After cleansing, I slather this on my body, as I would my hair conditioner, and then rinse it off. Some people have reported that after using this they no longer need to use their regular body lotion. Although I don't find this to be the case for me, I do notice that my skin is much more comfortable after getting out of the shower. Usually my skin starts to itch and beg for lotion as soon as I dry off. When I use this, my skin is much more calm and I don't feel like I have to hurry up and put lotion on. Another thing I've noticed is an improvement in my eczema. During the winter I get a few patches of eczema on my legs. I have a prescription steroid cream but I don't like to have to constantly use that. I've noticed that since using this product, my eczema isn't totally cleared up but its definitely looking better and its not as itchy.


The most effective step in my winter skincare has been incorporating a humidifier. About a month ago, my skin was at it's worst point. Regular exfoliating and moisturizing wasn't cutting it, so I knew I needed to try something different. Growing up, I remember my parents having this big beast of a humidifier that they used to run at night outside the bedrooms to help put some moisture back in the air during the winter. I decided to capitalize on this idea and picked up this little guy at Target. I love it because its small enough to fit on my bedside table so that the vapors are directly hitting my face. I have to tell you that it really works! Since I've been sleeping with my humidifier on I've seen such an improvement in my skin and I'm no longer getting those out of place dry patches.

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to change up your skincare to keep your skin moist and healthy during the winter. Do you have any fixes for dry winter skin?

Shop this Post:

Nivea A Kiss of Smoothness Lip Balm
ELF Lip Exfoliator
Yes to Grapefruit Facial Scrub
Mario Badescu Caviar Night Cream
Lush African Paradise Body Conditioner

Friday, February 20, 2015


In case you haven't heard, Boston has been suffering from one of the most brutal winters on record, clocking in at 95" of snow so far this year and counting. Technically this is the city's second worst winter on record, but we're only a foot away from topping the list! Not sure that's a title I want us to claim. 

Besides all the snow we have: frigid temperatures, roads that have turned into roller coasters thanks to endless potholes and frost heaves, houses look more like igloos with icicles reaching all the way down the ground, ice dams and roof collapses are an ever-present fear and if you don't have a roof rake, you're pretty much screwed.

Here's what we've been dealing with out in the burbs:

Besides the obvious problem of running out of space to put all this snow, we're dealing with our old friend, the ice dam. We had a small leak in our roof a few years ago so this fall, Mike decided to be proactive and installed a heat trace de-icing kit to the edges of the roof. Its designed to create channels in the snow and ice so that water can flow off the roof and doesn't back up and cause leaks. They seem to be somewhat working on the front and side of our house but the back where the two roofs meet up is the trouble spot and our roof still leaked there. 

At this point we started the search for a roof rake. Of course they were sold out everywhere and we had to order one on Amazon. Once it finally came Mike did what he could with the roof rake but the ice dams were just to intense and we ended up having to call in a roofing team to clear the roof of snow and break up the ice dams. Now at least the roof is much more manageable and we just have to keep up with the roof raking after each storm. 

If you look closely you can see the rope of our tire swing. The snow is almost up to the roof of our shed.

Dale is the only one enjoying the snow. The first thing he does when he goes outside is flop on his back and roll around in it. He just can't get enough! He is great at adding some comic relief to a stressful situation. I just love dogs.

Just wanted to give a glimpse of whats been going on around here lately and why I've been a bit MIA. I know I promised to try to be more positive about winter this year but this endless parade of winter storms is making it difficult!

Send warm thoughts my way!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Spotlights Review

This is a limited edition set from Becca Cosmetics which features mini sizes of three of their Shimmering Skin Perfectors. I picked this up over the holidays and have been loving it ever since! Becca's pressed powder versions of their highlighters have a cult following so when I saw that I could try three of their liquid highlighters for only $25, I jumped at the chance!

The three colors in the set are Pearl, Opal and Champagne Gold. Pearl is a glowy white, Opal is a pinky nude and Champagne is an iridescent gold. I've been wearing Pearl a lot since my skin is very pale right now, but Opal can also work. Champagne is a bit too dark for me at the moment but I'm going to save it for the summer months when my skin has a little color.

Here they are slightly sheered out:

Becca describes the finish as "subtle luminosity that provides a prismatic effect". I mainly use these as a highlighting product on the tops of my cheekbones and a little down the bridge of my nose. They can also be mixed in with your foundation to give an all over glowy appearance. They are similar in consistency to Benefit High Beam, but the Becca spotlights are more creamy and blendable.

Becca also sells these separately. The full size bottles are in a pump form. They are 1.7 oz and retail for $41 each. The mini sizes have a straightened doe foot applicator and are about the size of a lip gloss at 0.17 oz. The amount you get in each bottle is much less than the full size, but a little goes a long way. Since the price of three of these smaller sizes is still much less than one full sized shade, I think you're still getting a good value. 

I apply these in two ways:

I either make three small dots with the applicator to the tops of my cheekbones and then blend it out with my ring finger and lightly bring it down the bridge of my nose. My favorite way to apply these is with a small stipple brush. This one from ELF is amazing for cream products and is available for only $3 at Target. I dot some of the product on the back of my hand, dip the brush in and stipple it onto the tops of my cheeks and a little bit down my nose. 

Final Thoughts:

For the $25 price tag I think this is an amazing value. You get three different highlight colors. Two of the three shades are in the permanent line but Champagne is limited edition and is only available in this set.

These are limited edition and they are currently sold out at Sephora and Ulta, but you can still order them directly from the Becca Website. Happy Highlighting!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mad for Marsala

The global color authorities at the Pantone Color Institute have spoken and released the color of the year for 2015, Marsala. Pantone describes this color as a "robust and earthy wine red".

If you were puzzled by what to do with last year's pick, Radiant Orchid, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how wearable this year's shade is. I'd describe it as a red-brown with pink undertones. It is such a rich and natural color that can be seamlessly incorporated into your wardrobe, home and beauty regiment.

Where makeup is concerned, Marsala can be easily worn on the lips, cheeks, eyes and nails.
Going through my makeup collection I realized I already owned some items in the Marsala family.

My first thought on Marsala was that it would be such a pretty lip color. It has been all over the awards show red carpets this year so makeup artists are taking notice! Here are three options:

Gerard Cosmetics Lipstick in 1999  - Brown nude with a bit of pink, matte finish.

Too Faced La Creme in Pink Chocolate - Berry Brown with a glossy finish.

Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipstick in Touch of Spice - Rosy Brown with a comfortable matte finish.

Another great way to incorporate Marsala is through your blush. A darker rosy cheek is very in this winter, so Marsala is a perfect fit. Here are two options:

theBalm Instain Blush in Houndstooth - theBalm totes this as a "mauve" but I think its more of a plum with a bit of brown.

Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge in Blushed Rose - Cream blushes are great for the dry winter months. This one from Bobbi Brown is a rosy brownish pink shade that can be worn on both the cheeks and the lips.

Another way to wear Marsala is through your eye makeup. I found this Marsala shade, Miracle, in the It cosmetics Naturally Pretty Celebration Palette. It looks great as an all over the lid color, blended into the outer V, or as a liner. I like to pair Miracle with light pinks and warm browns to give my look some dimension.

Last, but not least, Marsala is beautiful on the nails. The shade In Stitches by Essie is a spot-on Marsala color. Its a light berry-brown with a creme finish.

The executive director at Pantone describes Marsala as "a subtly seductive shade, one that draws us in to its embracing warmth." Its very on-trend with the mauves and browns that have been all the rage in the beauty world for the past few months. This color is the perfect mix of the two. It is a very warm and earthy tone that you can interpret as either more brown or more pink in tone. I think this has much more mass-appeal than Radiant Orchid did. Its such an easy, ready-to-wear color that will complement a wide variety of skin tones.

How to you feel about this year's Pantone pick? Are you Mad for Marsala too?