Monday, January 23, 2017

Music Monday: SOHN



SOHN is Christopher Taylor, an English ambient/electronic musician and producer, based in Vienna, Austria. His latest album, Rennen, is out now and can be purchased here.

In his own words:
"I'm not really working in the same way that a lot of electronic producers are; I'm working with instruments."

Conrad:

Rennen:

Signal:











Tuesday, January 17, 2017

2016 Music Favorites: 20 of My Most Enjoyed Albums

Favorite Albums of 2016




I prefer to have my yearly favorites posted sooner but I started off 2017 feeling very under the weather (not to mention a brutal phase of Mercury Retrograde). I wanted to make sure I was in a clear frame of mind when I reflected back on which albums I enjoyed listening to the most. I hesitate to call these albums 'the best of 2016' because it would be impossible to say that with any level of certainty. It's a challenge to rank music as it's such a personal thing. I am a hardcore music lover but I would have to devote every waking minute of the year to listening to new releases to truly get a feel for everything. I tend to listen to music regardless of its freshness or relevancy. I also find my music organically and am not influenced much at all by critics or the blogosphere. This list is simply me sharing what I liked, in hopes of connecting with other fans or to someone searching for new sounds who may not be as familiar. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite releases of the past year...



Empire of the Sun, Two Vines. October, 2016.

I've been a major fan of this group for many, many years. Their music makes me happy. I have yet to see them perform live but hope that changes in the near future.

High and Low:

Two Vines:


Kanye West, The Life of Pablo. February, 2016.

Personal and professional antics aside, his music is still good.

Famous:

Fade:


Angel Olsen, My Woman. September, 2016.

I really like her vocal style and enjoy listening to her music when I'm in a relaxed, but somber mood.

Intern:
Heart Shaped Face:

Frank Ocean, Blonde. August, 2016.

The most-anticipated album of the year, Blonde, (or is it technically Blond...?) exceeded many expectations of a sophomore slump.

Nights:

White Ferrari:


Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Getaway. June, 2016.

Hipsters will tell you RHCP aren't cool but I admittedly love the older stuff. Their most-recent albums have been very disappointing but this one was somewhat of a pleasant surprise. It's far from my favorite but Anthony Kiedis can still get it.

The Getaway:

Dark Necessities:


Leonard Cohen, You Want It Darker. October, 2016.

Farewell to a legend. What an artist. What a man.

You Want It Darker:

It Seemed the Better Way:


Kristin Kontrol, X-Communicate. May, 2016.

The debut solo project from the lead singer of Dum Dum Girls. I really like this new direction.

X-Communicate:

Smoke Rings:


James Vincent McMorrow, We Move. September, 2016.

Fans of Bon Iver will enjoy this release from the sultry Irish crooner.

I Lie Awake Every Night:


Get Low:


David Bowie, Blackstar. January, 2016.

2016 was a year surrounded by the loss of countless musicians. David Bowie's final studio album, released on his 69th birthday, left fans with one last parting gift just days before his untimely passing.

Blackstar:

Lazarus:


Glass Animals, How To Be a Human Being. May, 2016.

Glass Animals has an incredible sound that's all their own. It always gets me going. I'll leave it at that.

Youth:

Poplar St:


Gallant, Ology. May, 2016.

Gallant was my favorite discovery of the year. I adore his voice and really loved the style of songs on this debut release.

Talking to Myself:

Weight in Gold:


Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool. June, 2016.

A band that needs no introduction, this album managed to make me love them even more.

Daydreaming:

True Love Waits:


Bon Iver, 22, A Million. September, 2016.

Bon Iver has produced some of my favorite music of the past decade. I was eager to hear the new sounds but much of its overproduction fell short of my very high expectations. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed some of these songs. Even when it's not my absolute favorite style, Justin Vernon creates innovative music. He is easily one of the most talented artists of my generation.

33 "GOD":

8 (circle):


St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Sea of Noise. September, 2016.

This was the first year that I took notice of the southern soul group who hails from Alabama. Stunning vocals and glorious instrumentation, this album is for fans of Motown looking for a modern take on classic oldies.

Midnight on the Earth:

Burning Rome:


Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor's Guide to Earth. April, 2016.

I'm not a major fan of country music but after attending college in West Virginia, I definitely picked up an affinity for certain sounds. If you're open to the genre that blurs between alt, rock and country, Sturgill Simpson is your man. Even if a twang isn't your thing, a true music lover recognizes talent when it's blatantly obvious.

In Bloom (Nirvana Cover):

Brace for Impact (Live a Little):


A Tribe Called Quest, We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service. November, 2016.

With the exception of the title's atrocious grammar (of course there is a celestial, unknown meaning behind it), this album was a welcomed surprised. A Tribe Called Quest takes me back to my youth in the most simple yet remarkable of ways.

We The People...:

Ego:


Mac Miller, The Divine Feminine. September, 2016.

Despite Mac Miller being a hometown kid, I never fully connected with much of his music until this release. I really enjoyed the way these songs were produced. And if you've ever seen one of Mac's interviews, you can see that he is not only hilarious but also has such a loving, gentle soul that you really get to hear come through on this album.

Dang! ft. Anderson .Paak:

Skin:


M83, Junk. April, 2016.

M83 holds a special place in my heart so I am always receptive to a new album. This one wasn't my favorite but there are still quite a few tracks that won me over.

Do It, Try It:

Sunday Night 1987:


Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, I Had a Dream That You Were Mine. September, 2016.

I've been a fan of The Walkmen for a long time so it's no surprise that I really appreciated this album. Gorgeous vocals and lyrics accompanied with a haunting production, this was definitely one not to be missed.

A 1000 Times:

In a Black Out:


Michael Kiwanuka, Love & Hate. July, 2016.

I have loved this man's voice for a few years and was excited to finally hear what his second album would sound like. It's filled with so much beauty. All of the feels.

Cold Little Heart:

I'll Never Love:









Saturday, January 14, 2017

2016 Skincare Favorites: My Most Used Products for Normal to Dry Skin Types

2016 Skincare Favorites




I wasn't always a skincare type of person. With the exception of being ultra sensitive to the sun, I was fortunate in that I never really had any problems with my skin. I liked the idea of starting to take precautions against aging fairly early on but never put much effort into fostering a solid routine...not until I was in my late 20s that is. A job I picked up over one holiday season turned into a worthwhile position with the french luxury line Clarins. At the time (and still to this day), I was much more of a makeup junkie. I was a bit reluctant about my new role but was eager to learn as much as possible. I was excited to go through training and learn the exemplary techniques that Clarins skincare specialists use in their Parisian spas. Application is key, ladies and gentleman. Always gently pat and press your product into the skin; never pull, rub or tug!

While I was never enthralled with skincare products in the same way that a makeup palette can make my eyes light up, I was grateful for being placed in that role. If it weren't for that fateful alignment, I might have never bothered to put such a valiant effort into the care of my skin. With trial and error and a little bit of diligence, I have transformed my skin from very dry and dehydrated to balanced and normal. I'm proud to say that my skin is one of the things I get complimented on the most (I will be 31 soon but am frequently asked if I am in college). I take pride in keeping my skin looking the best I possibly can and am curious to see how the measures I take today will reveal itself in the years to come.

While every one has different skincare concerns and requirements, these are all products that I highly recommend. What works for one person doesn't always do the same for another, so precede with caution. Always ask for complimentary samples before delving into a new regimen. Save your money and try before you buy! And don't attempt to experiment with more than one product at a time; this will ensure that you can formulate an honest critique of whether something is working for you. Now, on to the products!




Cleanser:

Dove Moisture Beauty Bar Soap, $5

Most skincare snobs will tell you to never let a bar of soap touch your face. I'm glad I never listened to that advice because this moisture beauty bar transformed my skin. It's the most delicate of cleansers and easy to use in the shower. It instantly clears any blemishes and balances the skin. Best yet? It's very affordable! My only concern is the 3/4 version has been MIA from the market. I've used it for years and can't speak highly enough to its performance. I'm not sure if Dove changed the formula or its offerings. Anyone out there have an answer for me?

Bioderma, $17

Bioderma is a cult beauty favorite for a reason. It is one of the best products I have ever used. If you're American, there was a time not long ago when you had to know someone in Europe or pick this up while traveling in order to procure its presence in your arsenal. I vividly remember when I went to France a few years ago and asking the girls in my group if we could stop at a Pharmacy so I could bring back this miracle in a bottle. Fortunately for those of us who are stateside, you can now easily get Bioderma through Beautylish for a very reasonable price. I use Bioderma to cleanse my skin, take off my makeup, prep it for further product and refresh in the morning. It is a dream come true for those of us who have dry, sensitive skin. It has more or less replaced every makeup remover I have in that it does a tremendous job at gently sweeping away product without leaving behind a filmy residue. If you have yet to try Bioderma, I can not recommend it highly enough. I love micellar water in general, and there have been many wonderful releases, but nothing stands close to the original.

Shiseido Facial Cotton, $10

A bit on the pricey side but worth every penny! I use the Shiseido cotton daily along with my Bioderma and softener. For those who use liquid makeup remover, this cotton is also fantastic. I also use it to take off my nail polish if I'm feeling fancy. You can even saturate a pad to use for pampering. It's the softest cotton on the market and does not shred. If you have sensitive eyes and skin, there's nothing worse than cotton particles interrupting your regimen. If you haven't done so already, give this a try during a Sephora VIB sale or use reward points (I love Plenti) to cut back on the cost. It makes such a difference.



Exfoliator:

Bobbi Brown Buffing Grains for Face, $44

Because my skin is a bit sensitive when it comes to harsh exfoliators, it was semi challenging to find one that does the job effectively without irritation. These grains are on the pricey side but a little goes a long way. I usually only exfoliate my skin as needed (on average, once every week or so). This product is unique in that you can use it on its own with warm water or as it's designed to be mixed in with your favorite foaming cleanser. I have paired it with my Dove beauty bar as well as traditional cleansers from Clarins and have yet to experience a bad reaction. Tip: Even though the sand grains are soft, be extra gentle when massaging the product into your skin, cautious to avoid the eye area.

Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner, $39

My skin tends to lean on the dryer side of normal so I don't reach for this product very often. But during the warmer, more humid parts of the year or during "that time of the month" when my skin is experiencing additional oil production, I apply this mostly to my T-zone with a Shiseido cotton pad. It does a good job at removing dead skin cells and adding brightness. Tip: Because this toner contains salicylic acid, be careful not to expose your skin to the sun while using this product.



Softener/Toner:

Shiseido Benefiance Balancing Softener Enriched, $45-$73

This softener has been one of my favorite products for several years. It transformed my skin. Because I lean dry, toners just aren't my thing. They usually do more harm than good. If you're in the same boat, I can't recommend a softener highly enough. It is the perfect addition to your regimen. After cleansing, I saturate a cotton pad with this softener and apply it on my face, neck, decollete and even hands. It works to balance the pH levels in your skin while hydrating and prepping it for further product. It increases the performance of serums and moisturizers and works like a dream. I can't be without this phenomenal product! If you are dry, definitely go for the enriched version (which costs the same as the regular formula). If you are normal to combination, the regular softener should work nicely for you. If you're oily, definitely stick to a traditional toner.



Serum:

Lancome Advanced Genefique Serum, $78-$175

I call this wondrous potion my super serum. It's excellent for using in partnership with a stronger serum. The texture is fast absorbing and feels wonderful on the skin. It's fantastic for all skin types and works to increase radiance and prevent fine lines and wrinkles.

Clarins Double Serum, $89-$119

I wasn't always a fan of this serum but as I've gotten a bit older, I've really grown to appreciate its potency. A very rich formula, I recommend this for combination, dry and mature skin types. I like to use it every other night. The scent is delicate but pleasant. It helps to boost the power of my moisturizer and works to battle wrinkles and enlarged pores.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair, $65-$95

I have a slight love-hate relationship with this serum. I don't particularly favor the scent or the consistency (it's rather sticky) and my dropper never seems to smoothly release the product. But it works. I use it at night in rotation between the Clarins Double Serum. Results include plumper skin with less fine lines and wrinkles. I adore the shape and color of the bottle. It feels like something you would find in an apothecary shoppe.



Moisturizer:

Shiseido Future Solution LX Night Regenerating Cream, $260

This is one of my favorite night creams for providing saturated hydration and anti-aging properties. While the astronomical price is a tough pill to swallow, I am fortunate to get an insider discount on the line and am cautious to only purchase it around the holiday season when there are value sets and bonus gifts offered. It's an investment in the future of my skin as this product definitely helps to nourish and protect from the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. If I slack on using this product, I start to see the difference and conversely, when I reintroduce it into my regimen I see instant results.

Shiseido Future Solution Total Revitalizing Cream, $230

I have been using this cream in rotation for the past couple years and finally finished the container. It was my introduction into high-end moisturizers and what a foray it turned out to be. This is a very rich cream so I only recommend it for those with dry and/or mature skin. It's phenomenal at adding a boost of hydration and plumpness to the skin. If you go to sleep with this moisturizer on, you will awake with better looking skin. I'd love to be able to afford another jar to put into rotation with the other Shiseido Future Solution cream but as of right now, that's not in my budget. Tip: Prioritize what is most important to your beauty routine. I never pay to get my nails or waxing done. The money that I save on services like this allows for me to allocate those resources to my skincare products.

Shiseido Bio-Performance Advanced Super Revitalizing Cream, $75-$95

If the Future Solution Line does not fit into what you would like to spend on a night cream or feel that it is too concentrated, I highly recommend this Bio-Performance cream. It's very similar in texture to the Future Solution line but much easier to wear. It's light enough that it can even be used during the day for those who need the extra hydration. I rotate this cream with the others mentioned and find them to produce somewhat similar results at maintaining a youthful appearance.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream Extra-Dry Skin, $17

Because I go so hard with my nighttime skincare routine, I usually find by morning that my face needs minimal attention. I can usually skip an AM moisturizer but when I wear makeup, I always like to prep my skin with a fast-absorbing gel-cream formula. There are a few products on the market that I like but one that stands out the most is this one from Neutrogena. It instantly hydrates and plumps the skin while creating a wonderful base for your makeup. When it comes to the drug store, Neutrogena really hits it out of the park with so many of their bath and body products. I can't recommend their line highly enough.

Clarins Extra-Firming Advanced Neck Cream, $89

This might sound preposterous to some but a solid neck cream is critical in your skincare routine. When I was in my late 20s, I started to notice a few lines deepening on my neck that appeared to have formed from looking down at my phone and sleeping on my side. I quickly realized that the delicate neck area is one of the first places that shows your age. Anything that you use on your face, you should be carrying down to your neck and chest. But when it comes to a moisturizer, the neck's surface requires special attention. I've found that my own responds extremely well to the Clarins neck cream. It absorbs quickly and you see and feel results instantly. The price is painful but the results are phenomenal. In the few years that I have been using this product, those lines have dramatically faded and I notice firmer skin.



Eye Care:

Shiseido Ultimune Eye Power Infusing Eye Concentrate, $67

Using a serum before a moisturizer helps to boost the potency of your products by allowing the ingredients to penetrate deeper into the skin. This goes for the eye area as well. I didn't care for the Ultimiune face serum but the eye concentrate is pretty good. Shiseido scientists spent a lot of time and resources developing this line of products with Harvard researchers and the results I have seen are worthy of a mention.

Clarins Super Restorative Total Eye Concentrate, $85

This is one of the best eye creams I have ever used. It's light enough to wear during the day under makeup but it's also effective enough to use as a night treatment. It's very hydrating, fast absorbing and helps to reduce dark circles, puffiness and fine lines and wrinkles. I have sensitive eyes and wear contacts but have yet to experience any irritation. Tip: Always gently press the product into the skin as opposed to rubbing. I am liberal with where I apply my eye cream. Rather than just patting the cream under the eyes, I also put the product on the entirety of my lid up to the brow bone. In addition to this, I also apply to the areas where I have dubbed "the mask of Zorro". I apply eye cream to the space above my eye brows, in between where 11's form, and around the contour where crow's feet develop. Many people use their moisturizer as their eye cream but you should really be using a separate cream. The skin surrounding the eye area is different than the rest of the face and requires special attention. A heavy night cream or even a lighter day moisturizer will be too richly saturated and cause swelling and puffiness.

Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream, $52

I love using this eye cream during the day underneath my makeup. Similar to the Clarins (and much less expensive), it is fast absorbing and hydrating. I don't necessarily see this as tremendous for correcting fine lines and wrinkles but its hydration properties are definitely helpful. You can always rely on Bobbi Brown's skincare products to work cohesively with makeup.

Bobbi Brown Extra Eye Repair Cream, $74

This eye cream is thicker in consistency and works best at night as a treatment. Some people like to use it during the day but I prefer not to have a heavy eye cream under my eyeshadows even if it's fast-absorbing. When applied at night, you will notice in the morning a firmer, more lifted appearance to the lids.

Shiseido Future Solution LX Eye and Lip Contour Regenerating Cream, $130

Speaking of heavy eye creams, this is one of the thickest I have ever tried. I use it once or twice a week at night when I want to have extra treatment for my eyes. It's wonderful at correcting fine lines and wrinkles and preventing new ones from forming. It can also be used around the mouth to correct any lines that may have emerged in that area. While it is an expensive product, the deluxe sample that I received from my Future Solution holiday value set has lasted me a very long time.



Hand Care:

Etude House Pink Vital Water Serum, $20

As mentioned above, serums are very helpful in boosting the performance of your creams. Hands are no exception. In the latter half of the year, I decided to use this serum from Etude House on my hands and chest area as it's lightweight and affordable. It's not at all sticky and absorbs quickly into the skin. It's also good as a hydrating daytime serum for the face.

Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream, $30

I've never been a fan of using hand creams. I find that they're usually sticky or take too long to dry. The Clarins hand cream is a wonderful exception. It's on the thicker side without being too heavy. Despite its somewhat rich consistency, it absorbs very fast. It works to improve hydration and diminish the appearance of aging. I also like to use it on my nails and cuticles. The scent isn't for everyone but it's one that I've actually grown to appreciate as I now associate the botanical fragrance with being effective at healing my skin.



Lip Products:

Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil in Honey, $26

I touched on this product in my previous 'best of' beauty post but felt compelled to include it on this list as well. It definitely falls in line with both a makeup and a skincare item. It's phenomenal!

Clarins Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm, $24

The same can be said for this fantastic balm. To read a bit more on what I think of it, please be sure to check out my previous post.

Pangea Organics Italian Red Mandarin with Rose Lip Balm, $14

I discovered this indie brand several years ago through a Birchbox. It is one of my favorite lip balms of all time. It is silky smooth, hydrating and fairly long lasting. The ingredients are good for your lips, the scent is pleasant and the pricing is pretty good. It's harder to find than most products but as of the time this post was written, you can purchase it through Amazon which I have linked above.

Chanel Hyra Beauty Nourishing Lip Care, $50

If the price doesn't send you running for the hills, this is an excellent luxury lip balm. Because of its packaging, for sanitary purposes and convenience, I tend to only use it before bed when I am in the comfort of my own home and have easy access to a tissue. I've never been a fan of having to dip my fingers into a potted lip product but this formula is wonderful for healing dryness. You get a good amount of product (.35 oz) and a little goes a long way. One container, with off and on usage, has lasted me a couple years. When I finish this product, I plan to repurpose and fill the elegant packaging with one of my more affordable lip balms. Keeping it real. Keeping it bougie.



Treatments:

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream All-Over Miracle Oil, $28

I've been a fan of body and hair oils for years but there's something about putting oil on my face that is only now catching on with me. When I first bought this multipurpose oil, I resorted to mainly using it on my hair and body. The scent is relaxing and very pleasing to the senses. It was not until recently that I became brave enough to apply a bit of this oil on my face (usually when I'm feeling dryer than normal). It's also wonderful to add a few drops in with your nighttime moisturizer. It leaves the skin, hair and body feeling soft and supple. I love that it has a spritz dispenser and isn't in glass packaging. You get a good amount of product for your money and a little goes a long way (3.4 fl oz). I highly recommend trying this out-- if only for the scent!

Evian Mineral Water Spray Duo, $15

This has been a favorite of mine for years. Mineral water in a can, perhaps. But I love it for so many different purposes. I keep it near my bed so I can spritz myself in the morning on days when I'm not in the mood to get out of bed. Who needs to splash water on your face at the bathroom sink when there's an Evian bottle right next to you? I wish I was kidding but I'm fully serious. I love it as a refresher during the day or while I'm traveling. It's excellent in the winter to relieve dry skin and in the summer to cool you down. It's wonderful to prep your skin before makeup or to cancel out any excess powder. I can't tell you how often this product comes in handy. I definitely recommend purchasing the smaller size so you can toss one in your purse or carry-on bag (I won't go on a plane without mine).

Etude House My Lash Serum, $5

As far as I am concerned, this is the best kept secret in lash and brow serums! If you've ever shopped around for one, you'll quickly realize that they are all extremely overpriced. $100 is the norm for a tiny tube. I have tried these products and they are good but not worth the money. I gave My Lash a try on a whim and I'm so glad that I did. I was so impressed and pleasantly surprised with my results! I use this product every night during my skincare routine on my lashes and brows. I noticed after only a week or so that my hairs were softer, shinier and longer. While it takes about a week to truly see the benefits, you will feel the results the next morning. You can not find another product on the market that does what this does for such a low price! I have repurchased several times over as I apply a generous amount and go through the tube rather quickly. Do I recommend you buy one? No. Buy 5 of them! 

Etude House Sheet Masks, $1

I couldn't include a best of skincare list without mentioning my favorite sheet masks! Also from Etude House, these marvelous wonders are both extremely affordable and effective. There's a mask for every concern. Etude House has excellent price points but you can almost always apply a discount code to get their products for even less. I have experimented with several of their offerings but have never had a negative reaction to their ingredients. You could tell me that these masks would do nothing for my skin but I would still continue to repurchase them as they're so relaxing to apply on the skin. I love spending an evening or two a week listening to soft music, a meditation or a podcast with one of these masks on. You can not beat the quality for the price. Korean beauty products are once again among my favorites of the year for their playfulness, affordability and high quality. And because I haven't said it enough already in this blog post...I highly recommend!


Shop Online with Ebates and Earn Cash Back on Almost Everything You Buy! 












Now Playing: "Maneater" by Lower Dens (Hall & Oates cover)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

2016 Beauty Favorites: My Most Reached For Products

2016 Beauty Favorites




I've had several favorite beauty products of the year including both new releases and reliable classics. I haven't listed everything but instead chose to highlight the items that immediately came to mind when I thought of what I reached for most this year. Some items were limited edition but I believe everything can still be purchased online via one source or another. When you're a major makeup lover and collector like me, you have a lot of makeup to choose from. The fact that these products were routinely used speaks volumes. I give each and every mention my golden stamp of approval.

Side Note: I'm actually attempting a no-buy for the entirety of 2017! Rules were made to be broken so I will of course make concessions for any necessities or limited edition releases that I would regret missing out on, but for the most part, this year will be free of buying new beauty items. If I do pick up something special, I will be giving up something else in its place. Makeup hoarding collecting is one of my major hobbies so wish me luck. It will be interesting to see how I "shop my stash" and what products turn up (and likely repeat) as favorites at the end of this year.


Primer:

Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water, $32

This has been my go-to for the past couple years. I always prep my skin with a fast-absorbing gel cream moisturizer and top it off with a few spritzes of this primer. It's excellent for dry skin and really helps to give the makeup a hydrated, smooth base without interfering with various foundation formulas.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, $20 $8

A staple in my collection for years, this is my favorite eyeshadow primer. UD recently updated its packaging so you can stock up with the discounted price. One tube carries on for ages. I prefer the older packaging so I picked up enough backups to last for years.


Eyeshadow:

ColourPop Singles, $5

These little cheap thrills (which are anything but cheap in terms of quality) have transformed my makeup collection. I became a bit addicted to procuring seemingly every new release. I might have bought a few too many but you can't beat the price or the unique formula. It makes doing your makeup a little more fun and proves that you don't have to break the bank to find something you love. A few of my favorite shades: Desert, Nillionaire, Game Face, Drift, So Quiche.

Dior Mono Shadow in Meteore, $31

I love adding this stunning bit of sparkle over simple eye looks to give it that added touch of glamour. The formula is a dream to put into place and it's oh so flattering in making eyes pop. A grown up shimmer that's subtle yet striking enough to wear from day to night.

Chanel Fall Quad, 268 Candeur et Experience, $61

This past fall, Lucia Pica's debut collection for Chanel got me really excited. While these shades have become easily dupable, I couldn't pass up the chance to add this beauty to my collection. The colors are definitely 'me' shades and very wearable. It's surprisingly Chanel's first ever all matte quad and what a winner it is.

Chanel Illusion d'Ombre Eyeshadow in Rouge Brule (Limited Edition), $36

Also from the fall collection, I missed out on this stunner and had to resort to an international seller out of Russia to obtain its wondrous presence in my collection. A more expensive version of ColourPop's White Rabbit or Game Face perhaps, but I would have thought about this product for years and regretted it had I not tracked it down. Its coppery hue has my name on it and it really goes so perfectly with the rest of the warm palettes in my collection.

Viseart Neutral Matte Palette 01, $80

Overpriced with slightly flimsy packaging but the formula of these shadows are superb. What I love about this palette is its foolproof. The shades blend together seamlessly while creating a natural look with just the right amount of pigmentation. If you love mattes, this is one of those palettes that you won't need any other eyeshadows to complete your look. I often use it on its own or grab a couple ColourPop shadows or a Natasha Denona kit to add shine and/or sparkle to the lid.

Tarte Tartelette In Bloom Palette, $46

While Tarte isn't my favorite eyeshadow formula on the market (I was not a fan at all of the original Tartelette palette-- too cool toned, too matronly), I found myself reaching for this quite often. The shades are very flattering and wearable from day-to-night and the packaging is just so bright and beautiful.



Eyeliner:

When I was in my teens and early 20s, I rarely went without a classic liquid black or brown eyeliner. But as I've gotten older, I prefer the ease of use and results achieved from a pencil. I like smudging my pencil into the lash line to create a sultrier look. It's nice not to fuss about creating a balanced wing that might be a bit too harsh for day or peel throughout its wear-time. I tend to wear neutral eyeshadows so I enjoy bringing color into my look with a pop on the top or bottom lash line. While I enjoy wearing seemingly every color liner under the sun, I usually go for traditional blacks, browns, bronzes and my favorite, golds! I rarely if ever attempt to put product on my water line (my eyes are way too sensitive), so I can't speak to how these products perform in that regard. But these are excellent for regular use.

Too Faced Perfect Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner, $18

This shade of black is very deep and the formula glides effortlessly on the lash line. It wears incredibly well without any fading. Despite being waterproof (which I tend to avoid), it's easy to remove.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Eye Pencil in Gold, Burgundy Suede, $24

This formula has topped my other favorite eye liners from Urban Decay. They apply easily and wear beautifully. The color range is also very nice. I love the opulent Gold shade and adore the bronzed hue from Burgundy Suede. If I didn't have a drawer filled with liners, I'd add a few more to my collection.

Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Precision Beautiful Color Eye Liner in Emerald, $22

Whenever I wear this emerald green liner, I always get compliments. It looks gorgeous over neutral warm eyeshadow and really makes my eye color pop. Its formula is very smooth. For fans of retractable liners, this is a great avenue to explore.

Etude House Bling Bling Eye Stick, $5

I adore these little shadow sticks. Etude House is always having incredible sales in addition to their fabulous prices so I was able to pick these up in every shade. I like to wear them as liner on the lower lash line or as a pop of color on the lid.



Mascara:

Too Faced Better Than Sex, $23

This has been one of my favorite mascaras for the past few years. It's always reliable in delivering length and volume without looking too made up.

Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye, $30

I reached for this mascara the most overall this year. It's a bit overpriced but it really is a good one.



Brows:

Anastasia Perfect Brow Pencil in Soft Brown, $23

I liked this pencil a lot this year. I'm not sure if it's my favorite but its ease of use made me reach for it quite often. If you're looking at the Anastasia line, I definitely recommend this or the pomade over the Brow Wiz as you get so much more product for your money. The Brow Wiz should really only be used to fill in gaps on an already full area not define the entire brow.

Anastasia Tinted Brow Gel in Brunette, $22

I love this product for adding a bit of dimension and color to my brows. It also sets the pencil nicely. I have naturally dark eyebrows which is apparently unusual for a redhead but I still like to give my brows some additional shine.



Face/Foundation/Powders:

I hate the feeling of wearing a mask. Heavy foundation is not for me. I have fairly good skin (knock on wood) but it's also dry. It seems to reject most foundations (when I can even find one that is light enough). I'd rather use a tinted moisturizer, BB cream or cushion to even out any redness rather than create a barrier between my natural complexion with a thick foundation.

Tarte BB Tinted Moisturizer, $36

This has been one of my favorite face products for the past couple years. I love that it's easy enough to use with your fingers but it can slightly be built up with a sponge or brush. It makes the skin even and hydrated and is really lovely for those who don't want a medium or full coverage foundation.

Lancome Miracle Cushion Foundation, $47

You don't get a lot of product especially for the steep price but this is a fabulous cushion foundation! It has a shade that is light enough for very fair skin (010) and it's very easy to use. I was able to stock up on a couple when Lancome had an unprecedented 50% off sale this Summer. I wish they would lower the price or include a second cushion but it's worth the splurge.

MAC Studio Fix Powder, $28

I've had this powder in my collection since I was about 16-years-old (repurchased several times over, that is). I always have it tossed in my makeup bag. It's perfect to use on its own on days when you don't have the time or energy to put on a liquid. It's also easy to use for touch-ups over other products. Many times I will use it simply for the mirror when reapplying a lippie. I'm in shade N3 which is practically the lightest powder on the market. I highly recommend it for all skin types.

Bobbi Brown Nude Finish Illuminating Powder in Nude, $50

I picked this powder up in a shade that is deeper than recommended for my complexion but instead use it as a light radiance boosting bronzer. It is very subtle and creates the most ethereal bronze. It's almost undetectable but makes such a difference. It's fine enough that someone very light can still use it as a finishing powder. I'd be curious to play around with the lighter shades but I love my Hourglass, YSL and Guerlain powders for this effect. At first I was disappointed in this product's performance but as I appreciated the beauty of its delicacy, it quickly became my favorite. The price is steep but I really enjoyed it.

YSL Boho Stones Gypsy Opale Limited Edition Couture Palette

Unfortunately, this stunning piece was very limited in its release but I'm so glad that I added it to my collection. Not only is the packaging gorgeous but the color correcting powder adds a beautiful radiance to the face. I like to use it as a finishing powder over tinted moisturizer. It should last for years but it will be a sad day when I run out of this beauty. Tip: Never travel with limited edition products that you love and can't replace! I don't even like to put this in my on-the-go makeup bag.

Guerlain Pressed Powder Meteorites Compact in 02 Clair, $62

While I love my traditional Meteorite pearls, the pressed version is much more convenient to use. While the price is steep, a little goes a long way and I expect to have this product in my collection for a long time. Like the YSL powder, the meteorites provide color correction and radiance in the most subtle way. I adore the gentle scent as well. This is a well-made, heavy product so if you plan to put it in your handbag for touch-ups, expect the extra weight.

Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Pressed Setting Powder, $35

As someone with dry skin, I try to avoid setting my concealer or T-zone with translucent powder whenever possible. But during the warmer months or for special occasions, I reach for this one. A little goes a long way so this compact will last for eons. I hear so many wonderful things about the Laura Mercier loose powder but I prefer the convenience of something pressed as loose powder gets so messy. If you prefer loose setting powders, Tarte also has this product available in that formulation.



Concealer:

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer in Fair, $7

I love the applicator on this product. The sponge makes the product glide and blend effortlessly. The formula is hydrating and sheer enough for those who aren't looking for extreme coverage. Tip: Always prep the area with eye cream and/or a hydrating primer before applying concealer for optimal results. I love the Clarins Super Restorative and Bobbi Brown hydrating eye creams as well as the Smashbox under eye primer. Honorable Mention: Bobbi Brown Tinted Eye Brightener, $32 $23 in Porcelain Bisque.



Bronzer:

Urban Decay Beached Bronzer in Sun-Kissed, $28

This is a fantastic bronzer if you're looking for a touch of warmth without veering into oompa loompa territory. And that packaging is too cute to pass up. The palm trees evoke a feeling of being bronzed in a tropical paradise.

Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder in Golden Light, $42

While I love Bobbi Brown, admittedly, her products are overpriced. This bronzer is wonderful, though. I love its golden tone for adding a bit of glow to my fair complexion.

Side Note: I didn't include any contour kits or powders in my list because I just don't take the time to contour very often. I prefer to just use a couple bronzers to add depth and dimension and find that regular bronzing provides a more natural look that's just as flattering.



Blush:

Clinique Cheek Pop Blush in Nude Pop, $23

I love this blush! The packaging is too cute for words and it just makes me happy. It's compact and easy to travel with as well. This shade goes so well with warm-neutral eye makeup that I almost always favor.

Too Faced Love Flush Blush in I Will Always Love You, $26

This blush is adorable. It reminds me of the Polly Pockets I would play with when I was little. I'm a fan of anything heart-shaped and Too Faced is definitely one of my favorite brands. This blush is more than just a cute gimmick, though. It lasts for hours and is very flattering on redheads.



Highlighter:

I've been a lover of highlighters for years-- long before they became the trend they are today. But something changed along the way. Highlighters went from adding an angelic radiance to being overwhelmingly glaring. I prefer my highlighter to look 'lit from within.' Subtle. I have several favorites in this category but these are a few that are most memorable for the year.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette, $62

This palette is a no-brainer when it comes to adding a finishing glow to the skin. I'll often swirl my brush in all three shades. It really is foolproof. But the lighter shade can be concentrated to add an extra touch of highlight.

Lancome My Parisian Shimmer Cube (Limited Edition), $59

Not many people responded well to this little beauty. I thought it was a uniquely interesting addition to my collection. You can use it as eyeshadow, highlighter, blush or finishing powder. The packaging is precious. It's not the best formula in the universe but it made doing my makeup fun.

Dior Glowing Gardens Illuminating Highlighters (Limited Edition)

I picked this up in both the pink and golden shades. It's one of those "gelee" type formulas that sit well on the skin. I almost wish I only got the lighter shade but despite having extremely fair skin, I do love a warm highlighter. Blame it on my hair.



Lips:

Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil in Honey, $26

This is hands down one of my favorite beauty finds in the past several years. I've already gone through two bottles of this. I'm not one to purchase "backups" of anything but I definitely have an extra lip oil in my stash in case this ever gets discontinued. It hydrates the lips unlike anything else and has a pleasant taste/scent. I don't care for the other two shades in the range but the honey version is spectacular! I enjoy wearing it on its own when I want something on my lips without the hassle or as a treatment under a balm.

Clarins Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm, $24

This lip balm pairs perfectly with the lip oil and is also fantastic on its own. It has the slightest bit of sheer pink tint which is very flattering on the lips. I love the way this feels. I have repurchased this product several times and have one in my handbag, one in my collection and one in my nightstand.

Dior Addict Lip Glow Color Revival Balm, $33

On days when I just want a no fuss tint to my lips, I reach for this. It feels very comfortable and lovely on the lips. I like that it leaves a bit of tint/stain behind. I have this in a couple shades but the original is still my favorite.

Urban Decay Lip Liner in Rush, $20

I wasn't much of a lip liner person until this year. I prefer to match my lip liner to the color of my product as opposed to a nude shade that is closer to my lips. This liner is magical in that it is "my lips but better" but still has enough of a pink hue that makes it the perfect partner with pinks and nude lipsticks. It has the slightest bit of sparkle that creates an interesting dimension to your product without being at all glittery.

Gucci Luxurious Moisture-Rich Lipstick in Exposure, $39

This is probably the prettiest lipstick I have ever owned. I've been a Gucci girl since I was a kid admiring my Mom's handbag (which I later scored for myself). Gucci has become very trendy over the past few years which the hipster in me is disappointed by. I liked having it "for myself." But I digress. Not only is the packaging of this lipstick phenomenal with its patterned logo and magnetic closure, but the formula is ultra comfortable and hydrating. I love this shade as it's neutral enough to pair well with most looks but still has a good color to it. I'd love to add some more Gucci lipsticks to my collection but not this year!

Tom Ford Lip Color in Pink Dusk, $53

My one and only Tom Ford lipstick. At that price, there's a good reason for having a limited supply. But this particular shade makes it understandable how the brand charges an arm and a leg for their product. This is a special lipstick for sure. Its packaging is dynamite and the formula is phenomenal. I love that this shade, like my Gucci lipstick, is neutral enough to pair with any eye look. It's my go-to for everything from everyday wear to an evening out. But at $53 a tube, I try to make sure I don't wear it too frequently.

Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick in Hepburn Honey, $32

This is a gorgeous shade of warm peachy nude. It takes well to a variety of different lip liners and glosses which can make it pull darker or lighter with ease. The packaging is stunning and the formula is fantastic. It's my only Charlotte Tilbury lipstick but it won't be my last.

Physicians Formula pH Matchmaker pH Powered Lip Gloss in Light Pink, $9

This has been a perennial favorite. I've had this in my collection for a long time but it never disappoints. I reach for it over a drawer filled with every high end brand imaginable. What's not to love about this product? It's very affordable, can be purchased at the drug store, has a mirror, adjusts to match my body's chemistry, goes well with a ton of different lip products, works perfectly on its own, leaves a tint andddd it lights up! What more could you ask for?


Set:

Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray, $31

This product does exactly what it promises. It locks your makeup into place and prolongs its wear time. This bottle lasts quite a long time so I was happy to stock up when they went on sale last year. It seems as though there is new packaging for the new year so I hope that the formula hasn't changed.


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Now Playing: "No Other Plans" by Sunny Levine
*I love this man's music! Not enough people talk about how talented he is.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Get Lit: A Proper Drink Book Review




As my various social media descriptors proclaim, I'm a fond lover of books and drinks. Because of this fact, it should come as no surprise that I jumped at the chance to read acclaimed New York Times columnist Robert Simonson's recent release on 'The Untold Story of How a Band of Bartenders Saved the Civilized Drinking World'.

What I liked about this piece of literature is that it's unlike anything else in my libation library. It's more than just a pretty cover (which by the way, its art deco style design is very beautiful). It goes deeper than a collection of cocktail recipes. This is a book in the truest sense of the word.

Excerpt:





If you've ever tended bar or know someone who does, this would make a fantastic gift. It's also an interesting read for drinks lovers and those who appreciate quality storytelling.


What the publisher says about A Proper Drink:

A Proper Drink is the first-ever book to tell the full, unflinching story of the contemporary craft cocktail revival. Award-winning writer Robert Simonson interviewed more than 200 key players from around the world, and the result is a rollicking (if slightly tipsy) story of the characters--bars, bartenders, patrons, and visionaries--who in the last 25 years have changed the course of modern drink-making. The book also features a curated list of about 40 cocktails--25 modern classics, plus an additional 15 to 20 rediscovered classics and classic contenders--to emerge from the movement


Purchase a copy of A Proper Drink

More about the author



FTC: I was fortunate to receive a copy of this book by my own selection for review consideration through the tremendous BloggingForBooks.org program. I highly recommend this service to fellow bloggers, readers and authors alike. All opinions are entirely my own.











Now Playing: "Proof" by I Am Kloot
*One of those rare gems of a song that I ephemerally loved but totally forgot about. Was excited to rediscover it over a decade later. Very appropriate tune for this post.

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
I'm living life in beautiful Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I hold a journalism degree from West Virginia University. I have worked in television news, fashion marketing, PR, and cosmetic sales. My love for writing and sharing with the world my various passions is strong. One of my many ambitions is to be published and continue creating in the fields of digital and print media, literature and film. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, going to concerts, reading, following Pittsburgh sports and traveling as often as possible. Some of my favorite things include beauty, style, architecture, books, tarot and astrology, thrifting and my shih-tzu, Ireland. If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you!