Review: Brow Liners from Anastasia, Prestige, Essence, and more (Blonde)

Hello again, everyone! I will be starting the year off with a review of one of the biggest trends right now: brow liner.

To be honest, I have never been very into bold or thick eyebrows; they usually look too harsh to me. I also do not love overly defined brows and prefer a natural look. However, I find that shaping your brows gently just to convey that subtle “put-together” feel can make a significant difference in your overall look.

Now, if you are blonde like me, or have light brows, you already know the pain of trying to find a liner that is neither dark nor brassy. My hair is currently a cool, ashy dark blonde, and every single “blonde” or “taupe” pencil I have tried comes off–if not brown, which is 90% of time–borderline orange. Some brands that I can list off the top of my head for you to not even bother considering are: MAC, Urban Decay, Stila, Sephora, Make Up For Ever, and any drugstore brand. Please feel free to prove me wrong.

Though I got seriously discouraged after facing strike after strike in the higher quality brands, I decided to try to pursue the elusive Anastasia Beverly Hills brow pencil. The reason I could not try this right away was that they are always out of stock at my local Sephora, but I managed to finally snag it at Macy’s. And my verdict? Maybe a 3/5. The consistency is decent (unlike many) and the color is the best out of the aforementioned brands, but to me, it is still brassy and a bit dry. I also tried their blonde Brow Gel, which is simply a sparkly golden mess.

The one higher-end brand that I had left to test before going to the next step was Too Faced, whose liner a trusted friend swears by, but I could not find their brow liner anywhere. I am not sure if they are discontinued.

Anyway, I then proceeded to dive into obscure cheap brands that I could afford to blow money on, because I figured I had nothing left to lose if my only other option was to settle for Anastasia. This turned out to be my smartest decision thus far. I found two high-rated brands, Prestige and Essence, on Ulta’s website (not in store though), and as they were around $4 and $2 respectively, I ordered them both in their lightest Blonde shade.

Prestige Brow Liner, Prestige Brow Gel, and Essence Brow Liner
Prestige Brow Liner, Prestige Brow Gel, and Essence Brow Liner

Right off the bat, the liners are extremely similar in packaging, size, and presentation. I like that they both come with a little brow brush, which never hurts to use. I also received a Prestige Brow Gel as a nice bonus.

Prestige on right, Essence on left
Prestige on left, Essence on right

Here are what the colors look like. This is exactly how they came since I have not sharpened either of them yet, though clearly Essence needs some of that sharpener (can you already tell which one I like more?). The main thing to note here is that, although their colors are similar, Prestige has sparkles in it!! This is essentially a dealbreaker for me–I hated it in MAC’s liners and so many of the gels, too. Why would anyone want glittery brows on a daily basis? If not for the sparkles, I actually thought Prestige’s color looked more taupe and promising than the slightly warmer Essence.

Well, my dears, I should have learned after all those trials: no matter how neutral a brow pencil looks, it will always look warmer on you. When I put both brands on, the winner became glaringly clear.

Prestige on right, Essence on left
Prestige on left, Essence on right
P
Essence on top, Prestige on bottom, after an hour on my hand

As you can see, Prestige is so brassy, it hurts. It is more like a bad shimmery bronze eyeliner than a brow liner. I have tried using it a few times to give it a second chance, but it only gets oranger as the day wears on. And it is longer lasting and buildable (see above pic), so it looks darker as well. 2/5

On the other hand, Essence looks more like a stain than a liner, and appears more natural on blonde brows than any other pencil, cream, or gel that I have tried. The color first seems too brown when you overapply it, but it spreads out and ends up looking the best on. The one con is that it is not long wearing in terms of staying put in a sharp outline, but I am fine with this since, as I’ve stated, I prefer a more natural look anyway. Plus, I strongly suspect that this could be improved with primer. And at less than $2, I don’t know how you can beat the performance. 4/5

Bottom Line: Essence > Anastasia in my opinion, and I would not recommend Prestige at all.

Hope everyone is off to a good start on their new year!

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Review: Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Foundation

If you frequent beauty blogs (especially a specifically talented vlogger who swears by this stuff), you have no doubt come across this Maybelline foundation as a recurring drugstore mention. I know I did, hence, as always, I put the hype to the test–over the course of an entire semester.

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Foundation

Even going to the store to pick up a stick, I already had trouble choosing a shade to match my light/medium skin. The color selection is extremely limited (-1, there were maybe 6 or so in store), which for me already takes away from 50% of the foundation’s use: i.e. evening skin tone. However, in the name of blogging, I picked out 190 Nude and carried on.

Applicator

The foundation itself is typically sized with a unique container as shown above. If you’re weirded out by the fact that nothing on there actually reads “foundation,” you’re probably onto something. I would have had no idea without blogger tips, especially since there is a concealer that comes in an identical but smaller package.

Anyway, I actually like the applicator tip for its ease of use (+1). The twist mechanism is interesting, but it was not difficult to use and I did not feel that it was eating up the foundation. In fact, I would say that even the very last layer that I just finished using the other day got out when I twisted down enough. I usually chose to swirl bits of the liquid directly onto my face using the applicator and then even it out as I wished with my buffing brush. Overall, a no-mess application (+1).

Now for performance. Here is where the review begins to slope downward. Even from the first use, I knew the foundation was way too liquidy and sheer (-1) to be anywhere near Holy Grail status for me. I usually had to spread a thin, runny layer all over my face, wait for it to dry, dab another light layer over the spots I really wanted covered, wait some more, and then cake on finishing powder to make sure I stayed matte and put. Even then, coverage was medium at best (-1) and I was shiny within hours (-1). Now, I by no means have dry skin, so I’m not speaking to those of you who do, but I’m also no oil well. My skin is mostly normal with some oilier areas, but this foundation makes it look like shine central without powder. Yet again, in the name of beauty and completeness, I endured three months with this thing.

Also, to return to the color problem: yes, the color did end up looking a bit dark and too beige on me, but this was easier to fix by blending it into my neck area and using concealer and highlighting powder in conjunction with it. Still, it’s not a great color.

All in all, I do not really recommend this foundation unless you have extremely dry skin, want light coverage, and one of the shades luckily happens to match you well. My final rating is -1 for limited color choice, +1 for ease of use, +1 for cleanliness, -1 for texture, -1 for coverage, and –1 for shine for a grand total of -2. Ouch–but hey, we have to be picky when it comes to what we put on our face every day.

Merry Christmas Eve!

New: Black Loeffler Randall Jules Wedges! (and me)

As a petite girl, I do not exactly go crazy over flats, but trekking the California slopes in 5-inch heels is not always a feasible option. Hence, low wedges (and platforms!) are my new-found obsession. And my goodness, have I been going nuts over this pair for months. I introduce to you: the Loeffler Randall Jules Nubuck Wedges.

These shoes have a solid 3.5″ heel to lengthen your pins, 0.5″ (though I’d say even slightly higher) platform to keep you comfortable, luxe imported nubuck leather exterior, and a sexy little ankle strap complete with a glossy clasp in my favorite color. Sounds perfect, you say? Well, the $325 price tag agrees.

I was in love with these at first sight as both wedges and d’Orsays are a short girl’s best friends, but as a student, $300 for every pair of shoe is not exactly in my budget. Obviously, Loeffler Randall is a higher end brand, so I decided the quality would probably be worth lurking the net until I found some kind of sale–it’s Christmas time, after all!

Well, I lurked for weeks. And months. These babies are sold out in my popular size 7 in all major retailers like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to try them on before buying. So I read every review I could, and found this fashion blogger who wears them a lot:

Nicolette Mason with Jules Wedges

On her, I think, they look even lower, so I got even more excited–could these finally be my new “flats”? The one thing I was worried about, though, was the narrowness–you can see here that it is definitely narrowly cut, and a couple reviewers mentioned this too. I don’t have particularly narrow feet, but I wanted them so much I was willing to risk it.

Anyway, as luck would have it, one day I actually found them at a secondhand luxury store in a size 7. I mean, this stuff doesn’t ever happen to me. I thought it must be meant to be. But then I also realized that these shoes were worn, and well, while I’m all for thrift clothing, shoes–closed shoes especially–is pushing it for my germaphobe triggers. Plus, I still didn’t even know if it would fit!

Although I was feeling like a brat at refusing a miracle find, I decided to stay on the lurk. And last week, my friends, it finally paid off. I ordered the last size 7 pair of Jules wedges from Amazon on sale on Friday after finishing my last final and feeling like a champ.

Well, they came in today, and without further ado:

My Loeffler Randall Jules wedges!
My Loeffler Randall Jules wedges!

I got excited and tried them on right under my baggy old winter sweater in my room, so I apologize in advance for the outfit and the background.

Me, old baggy sweater, new pretty shoes
Me, old baggy sweater, new pretty shoes
Awkward down shot, but they're still gorgeous
Awkward down shot, but they’re still gorgeous
Even more awkward. Wanted to show side views.
Even more awkward. Wanted to show side views.

As you can see, I have no sizing problems, length or width wise. They are extremely comfortable as expected, and although I am used to much higher heels, I think the super-low arch on these should work for just about anyone. They look and feel as expensive as they are. The toe is more pointy than what the pictures online showed, but I am fine with it–if anything, it makes them look even classier. I honestly cannot think of a single negative comment right now.

Anyway, there you have it. If you are in search of a comfy, versatile wedge to feel put together without killing your feet, this is the one. Happy holidays!

Winter Nails!

As a beauty lover, my earliest obsession was probably nail polish. Starting as a toddler stealing mommy’s top coat to now owning my own mini-salon in my bathroom (which I definitely recommend for both budget and time savings!), I have always seen nails as being a significant detail that can express personality as well as complete a look.

Unfortunately, I also inherited my grandma’s teeny hands with the shortest fingers possible. What that means is small nail beds and little work space for a nail artist. Did this stop me from experimenting with everything anyway? No way! Did it affect my eventual preferences and maybe my slight love affair with acrylics? Indeed.

By now, I know what works for me and what definitely does not. For winter, one of my favorite designs is a baby French with spakly variations–classic, yet fun and holiday-spirited. Here are some that I love:

French with metallic lace detail
Diagonal French acrylics with glitter detail

This time, I was undecided as to what design I wanted, so I just went to the salon and got some simple French acrylics to hide my winter-ridden nail beds:

My simple pink French manicure
My simple pink French manicure

Now, I was a little dissatisfied with the thick white tips (I like them thin!) so I filed off some length after this picture. Then, I decided I wanted to go full-on iridescent glitter with a protective top coat, so I sprinkled on some Nail Art glitter over a gel base, applied two Gelish top coats, and UV-set those sparkly babes right at home in my bathroom salon (maybe a total cost of $1 and about 15 min). The result?

My gel-set glitter French pinky
My gel-set glitter French pinky (same one from above)

As you can see, much healthier color and definitely winter-spirited–goes well with all your holiday parties as well!

Stay tuned for more holiday posts soon!

Spotlight: My Tricolor Celine Mini Luggage Tote

As promised, here is finally my post on my beloved, beautiful Celine tote: the Celine Yellow Pony Calfskin Mini Luggage Bag from Fall 2013. I purchased it on sale this past summer by a truly magical turn of fortune and have never looked back since.

Celine Calfskin Mini Luggage – Fall 2013 Collection

The above picture is from the collection page, but I feel like it does not do the bag justice–the sides look almost black and the front is so yellow-tinted. So here is my own picture:

My own Celine!
My own Celine!

As you can see, the front is almost white (more cream than yellow, certainly) and the grey sides definitely stand out from the black frame. It is a soft but sturdy pony calfskin leather overall, including the inside, which makes it super easy to keep clean. The tote is also extremely roomy, so my only possible complaint would be that it can get quite heavy if loaded–but as will every other structured silhouette of this size. Overall, I’m IN LOVE with this bag…as I am an avid fan of black-and-white, it goes almost ridiculously well with every outfit I wear.

The highlight of any group shot.
The highlight of any group shot.
Statement bag.
Statement bag.

Anyway, once I brave more and more OOTD posts, I am sure that you will be seeing this gem very frequently. I don’t have a huge bag collection as of yet, but Celine is at the top of the list without doubt. It will take a lot to overcome my addiction to this one.

Please PM me for any specific questions about price, location, where and how I got it on sale, etc.

Review: Urban Decay 24/7 Waterproof Liquid Liner

I just received this beauty in the mail after ordering on their Black Friday sale (still on, plus free shipping–link below!) in my search for the perfect purple liner. Shipping takes so long when you’re this excited!

ud liner

I ordered the color Retrograde, a dark, shimmery indigo shade. It came in a colorful little box (pictured above). The weird thing is that it opens on what I thought would be the “cap” side–i.e. the smaller one without writing–and apparently this is the liquid-containing side, which did make me feel a bit cheated compared to the nice long size of the pen (-1). But what can you do, it’s Urban Decay.

Super thin tip!
Super thin tip!

Anyway, onto the performance. You will notice right away that the tip is extremely thin–much thinner than Lancome’s Artliner or really any liner I use. I’m not sure about whether or not I like this yet, but at least you know that it will be easy to draw a fine line (+1). You can also see that it is a satisfyingly dark, sparkly color that is, in my opinion, finally a neutral purple (+1).

Extremely fine lines. Tiny hands for scale.
Extremely fine lines. Tiny hands for scale.

I first messed around with it a little bit by drawing on my hand. The pattern above is entirely on one go of a tiny amount of liquid, which is why it slightly fades off on the right, but let’s take a minute to appreciate the thinness of the lines. And let me tell you–I have minuscule child hands. This thing is fineee.

Retrograde on top lid. Excuse the harsh flash and lack of makeup.
Retrograde on top lid, over black liner. Excuse the harsh flash and lack of makeup.

Now, I didn’t have any eyeshadow, mascara, primer, powder, concealer, or really anything on, so please excuse my shiny discolored skin. I did want to give as accurate a picture as possible, and I think you can reasonably perceive the darkness and shimmer. Keep in mind that I applied Retrograde over Artliner in Noir, hence it is probably looking even darker than it really is. However, it is easily as richly pigmented by itself (+1) and easy to apply (+1). One thing I did notice is the slightly long dry time (over a minute, -1), but it could be my bias due to the lightning-fast Artliner or just that I applied over another layer of liner. I also love that the purple sheen brings out the green in my hazel eyes and the blonde in my hair.

Finally, I used my magic Bi-Facil eye makeup remover to wipe it off, and although this is “waterproof” (which has never been a positive feature in my experience), it thankfully wiped off just as clean as any other liner or mascara (+1). Now, I can’t confirm whether it’s the skill of the liner or the awesomeness of the remover (likely the latter), but you can be assured that the combo will work.

Now for the exciting part! This liner does sell for $19 on UrbanDecay.com (and likewise in retailers like Sephora), but it is currently on sale for $10 (as is every other one of the 11 colors)! You can find the retailer page hereand if you order now, you will be mailed a coupon up to $5000!

So the final score? Size deception (-1) + finesse (+1) + color (+1) + pigmentation (+1) + application (+1) + dry time (-1) + easy clean (+1) + special price (+1) = a whopping +4. I will definitely be ordering a few more colors with my new 20% coupon, so look for an update soon!