Sunday, October 11, 2015

e.l.f., Sept ipsy, Sacha Cosmetics & the BEST yellow setting powder

My most recent e.l.f. order just arrived and I am thrilled with the products I received! First up is this all-in-one Beauty Book in Natural Look. With 6 neutral eye shadows, a nude eye primer and a black eyeliner pencil, this kit is a rarity: it's a set you can use to create a complete eye makeup look that includes matte and shimmer, dark shade tones and bright highlights all in perfectly flattering combination.

The shadows are so velvety and blendable, definitely less powdery-sheer than I expected from such an affordable cosmetics line. Another pleasant surprise was the eye primer included in the kit - it is excellent! Already a fan of e.l.f.'s twist-up stick version of eyelid primer, I was happy they included it in this set. The light flesh tone helps even out skin tone on the lids and ensures long-wearing, budgeproof makeup application. Both lighter and creamier, I think this eye primer lasts longer than the other one without creasing. I also like the doe-foot applicator for ease-of-use.

Next in my order was this Shimmer Palette which houses 4 creamy highlighters for use anywhere. I can't believe it but I'm more impressed by this product than by Becca's Shimmering Skin Perfector (which made me break out). I find the creamy consistency better suited to the purpose in my opinion and it can be layered on for more glow and combined with powder highlighter for an intense almost wet-looking shine that would lasts through a hurricane.

I was so happy when my order arrived because of these three brushes. The shortest on the left is the Beautifully Bare Blending Brush, an exact dupe for a brush that sells for about $40 CAD at Sephora, and I am thrilled it only cost me $6 USD. Same price for the Studio Ultimate Blending Brush pictured here in the middle, a wonderful dupe of some of the best high-end foundation blending brushes out there, with its soft-focus effect from the rounded bristles. On the right is the Studio Contouring Brush, which also rang in at $6 USD, instead of many times that as I've seen from other vendors. The short dense bristles are designed to make sculpting out your cheekbones and facial structure almost foolproof, with synthetic bristles that are ideally-suited for precise, smooth application of both powders and creams. For the price, all three of these brushes are exceptional bargains, and I recommend everyone to give them a try.
In addition to the lowest-priced makeup around, e.l.f. routinely offers great seasonal promos, like the fall kit pictured above that was only $6 more when added to my shopping cart before purchase. It provided me with a nice sampling of this line's colour cosmetics in seasonally appropriate shades. I'm really impressed with both the Mineral Eyeliner in Coffee, a self-sharpening automatic eyeliner pen that glides on and has great staying power with minimal smearing and no irritation in the eye area. The automatic lip pencil is now my current favourite lipliner for fall, I just love how easy it is to apply and the lipbrush included on the opposite end make lipstick and gloss application perfect every time. I passed on the Mineral Lipstick to my mum since the shade looked much lighter on me than I expected, and showed up as brick red on me instead of the deep cranberry tone I was going for. It looks as intended on my much fairer-skinned mother, to whom I gifted this lippie and she says she likes it since it lasts longer than some of the products I've given her recently. I liked that it was unflavoured and unscented and is moisturizing and comfortable to wear. With the fall weather wreaking havok on parched lips, it's a welcome change.

Mid-September I received my next ipsy bag, full of autumnal beauty treats picked just for me! I have to admit that I've been feeling some schadenfreude when I read some people's negative ipsy reviews. I have loved every product I've received from ipsy, and I've found them to be of better quality than anticipated. The NYX eyeshadow trio will definitely be regifted since they lacked a bit in the intense colour payoff department, and they're all shades I have several times over. The Formula X Nail Color in Ignite is absolutely gorgeous, such a deep, dark burgundy red that in some lights seem shaded more by black and in other lights looks like a much brighter red, in a formula that didn't chip at all for more than 4 days, by which time I removed it. There was also a Revitalizing Hand/Body Lotion by skincare brand Not Soap, Radio.
The Korean brand Laneige is represented by their Water Sleeping Mask, which I'm saving for the colder weather when my skin can become so dry that it sometimes hurts.

But the most outstanding product in the September Glam Bag is this sensational City Color City Chic lipstick in the shade Je T'aime, that feels like as smooth and meltingly creamy as butter when you apply it to the lips. I don't know that I've ever tried a richer, more emollient lipstick. After hearing about this line for ages, it was my delight to have the chance to try it at last. Unfortunately the colour looked too coral on my darker-toned lips, so I passed it on to my dear mum who is now enjoying it very much as her perfect everyday red lippie. I bet this will be the one she finishes first based on how often I see it on her, which makes me deliriously happy!
At long last, I will share the brown girls' beauty secret to bright, perfect eye makeup application: yellow setting powder. Almost everyone by now has picked up some Ben Nye Banana powder, and it's lovely and effective, but a bit powdery and messy for my liking. It's good to use loose yellow powder if you're 'baking' your face makeup, but I've found the results to be a bit thick (albeit flawless) for my liking when I'm going for a natural or no-makeup look. That's why these pressed yellow setting powders are the best option in my opinion. They're also infinitely better to travel with and even easier to store at home.
Sephora's Bright Set Pressed Finishing Powder is a vivid, lemony-yellow pressed setting powder, very effective for fair-medium upto dark olive skin to tone down purple/blue under-eye circles and hyperpigmentation, and a great addition to your contour routine. Darker skin, keep reading.

If that Sephora yellow powder can be described as good, then Sacha's Buttercup Compact Powder is stellar, and absolutely deserves the growing cult following it has. I opted for convenience of portability when choosing the pressed powder format, and many of the reviews I read when researching my order stated that the compact formula was every bit as good as the loose.
Well here it is my friends, the last and only setting powder I may ever need. You can see it is slightly warmer than the Sephora version, which meant less chalkiness on my olive skin. I've seen numerous beauty tutorials where very dark-skinned women use Sacha's Buttercup powder to create their own absolutely flawless makeup looks. The line was created specifically to look good on a wide spectrum of skin tones, especially women of colour. It is almost shocking to find an entire line where all the shades will to show true against my complexion (a rarity to be sure).
Sacha Cosmetics are priced higher than drugstore brands, but it is reflected in the quality of the packaging and quantity of products they deliver. Once again, I decided to order after I found a coupon code over at brilliant Jackie Aina's beauty vlog for a discount, plus the site featured a free long-lasting lipstick with any purchase of Buttercup Powder, so I went ahead. I received the Intense Matte Lipstick in the shade Leading Lady, and although the long-lasting formula takes a bit of getting used to, I've really grown to love it in the last few weeks. This one is a beautiful peachy-pink-nude on me, and I even like the faintly fruity scent it has. One of the tricks for perfect long-lasting lipstick application is that you have to apply it and then sit there with your smiling mouth wide open until the formula sets on your lips, looking like a complete goofball. If you skip this step, the formulas tend to cake and pile up on the inner lipline and look gross. Of course, exfoliating and moisturizing your lips before applying long-wearing lip products is critical, for these formulas can emphasize dry, flaky patches. (Any lip exfoliator will do to address this, and if you don't have one, make your own for next-to-nothing by mixing a teaspoon of sugar with just enough olive oil to turn it into a paste and voilà!)
Careful lip lining is another important step to perfecting your wear of long-lasting lipsticks. Since these formulas can be unforgiving, laying down a solid border of your favourite long-wearing lipliner before applying the lipstick will make a huge difference in how flawless your final result will be.
I was also impressed by their customer service, for I when I phoned the company regarding my order and with a couple of questions, I was treated courteously and with respect, even though the person on the phone had no idea I'm a beauty blogger. I'm really looking forward to exploring what else this brand has to offer, and will most certainly be putting in another order with Sacha Cosmetics in the near future.