Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

After what must be years of umming and ahhing over the Beauty Blender sponge, I finally came to the realization that I could never part with nearly $20 in exchange for a makeup sponge, no matter how cute and how pink it is. So, when Monika from Rocaille Writes gave the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge a rather rave review, I quickly added it to my mental wishlist.

The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge is a cheery orange sponge with rounded sides, a pointed tip on one end and a flat edge on the other end. The pointed end is a particular favorite of mine, as I find it fits perfectly into all of the nooks and crannies and natural contours of the face. 

After dabbing mini blobs (???) of foundation all over my face, I hold the sponge under running water, then squeeze out all of the excess. Similarly to the Beauty Blender, the Miracle Complexion Sponge expands a considerable amount when dampened. Dampening the sponge softens it even further, creating a bouncy texture, and the moisture helps to flawlessly apply and blend foundation and concealer.

Below, the sponge is first shown dry, then dampened. It increases in size by about 50%.
With the dry and cold winter weather, I noticed recently that my skin looked dry, patchy and flakey with foundation on (I had been using the Shiseido Perfect Foundation Brush to apply it). After Sandra suggested I try applying my foundation with the Beauty Blender as it had worked wonders for her, I picked up the Miracle Complexion Sponge a few days later, and the difference in the appearance of my foundation was like night and day. 

Not only does using the sponge to gently press in my foundation eradicate any traces of dry patches, it also blends it in more flawlessly and quickly than a brush. One point worth noting, however, is that I do find that some coverage is lost when foundation is applied with the sponge, as it tends to give a slightly sheerer application. For this reason, the sponge is probably best reserved for pairing with medium to full coverage foundations, as use with a sheer to light coverage foundation may yield nearly invisible results.

If you struggle with streaky foundation application, want the option of a sheerer foundation application, suffer from dry, patchy skin, or simply can't stop thinking about the Beauty Blender, yet you can't part with that $20 bill either, I'd highly recommend picking up the Miracle Complexion Sponge. Coming in at just under $6, this little orange wonder has completely dissolved any yearning I previously had for its cute and pink predecessor. 

The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge is available at Ulta for $5.99.


Urban Decay Black Market

I have a love/hate relationship with Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencils. With the exception of Perversion, they don't seem to want to last more than 15 minutes on my waterline, but at the same time, the abundance of shade options and the pigmented and creamy formula never fail to keep me coming back for more. When I saw the Black Market set at my local Ulta marked down from $36 to $24, I snatched it up without a second thought.

Black Market includes six mini-sized 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils, five of which are new and limited edition shades. Here's a quick rundown:

:: West :: A versatile, suits-everyone, warm bronzey-brown.
:: Desperation :: The lone perm (and lone matte) shade in the bunch, Desperation is smokey grey. 
:: Black Market :: The set's namesake is a moderately intense grey-black with a satin finish.
:: Riot :: A sparkley purple with average pigmentation.
:: Apathy :: A forest green that walks the line between shimmery and metallic. This one also had the weakest pigmentation and applied the least evenly.
:: Ink :: A beautiful, shimmery royal blue with purple undertones.

L to R: West, Desperation, Black Market, Riot, Apathy, Ink

For the most part, these six pencils were consistent with my past experiences with Urban Decay's liners, and they neither came up short nor exceeded my expectations. Despite Riot and Apathy's less than stellar pigmentation (swatches show both shades built up) and the pencil formula's overall poor waterline lasting ability, at just $4 a pop, I can't really fault them - I'll just have to reserve them for smudgey liner looks or those days when I'm craving a 'pop of color' on my lower lash line.

Urban Decay Black Market 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil Set is available from Urban Decay for $24.

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Spill It.

Sarah Villafranco of Osmia Organics recently tagged me in the 'Spill It' tag, otherwise known as what's in my makeup bag right this moment.

I don't often carry around a makeup bag day to day, preferring instead to simply toss a few too many lip products into my handbag and call it a day. It's the only thing I really reapply throughout the day anyway. But, since I just got back from a short 3-day cruise, the contents of my Betsey Johnson makeup bag are a bit more well rounded than usual.

The spill:
NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Primer
Make Up For Ever Sharpener
Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer
Burberry Tangerine Blush
L'Occitane Rose Hand Cream
Chanel Les Beiges Powder 
Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
Bourjois Java Rice Powder
Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler
Shiseido Eyebrow Pencil
Shu Uemura Hard Formula Eyebrow Pencil
MAC Viva Glam I Lipstick
Revlon Tweezers
Urban Decay Perversion 24/7 Liner
Physicians Formula 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner + Serum
Smashbox Foundation Primer
C.O. Bigelow My Favorite Night Balm
Nivea Lip Butter
NYX Creme Brulee Butter Gloss
Sonia Kashuk Sheer Pink Lust Lip Colour
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Volumizing Mascara

Eeek! Kind of a ridiculous amount, no? Skincare was separate, of course (I'll save that for another day). And, in case you're curious, I also had my trusty LORAC PRO Palette on hand, but it didn't fit inside my bag :) 

I tag J. from Lil Lady's Life, Jessica from Getting Cheeky, Monika from Rocaille Writes, and Joyce from Bronzer Bunny.

Spill it, ladies.


MAC Viva Glam I

Aside from the occasional products I specifically ask for, my friends and family don't often gift me makeup anymore. It probably has a bit to do with not knowing much about makeup and a bit to do with believing I couldn't possibly need more makeup anyway that they'll just get me something else completely. With that said, you can imagine my elation when my friend, Rhea, gifted me a MAC lipstick, not only in a shade I didn't already own, but a shade I've been contemplating adding to my collection for eons.

MAC Viva Glam I is a deep red with cool undertones. Despite its matte formulation, it actually has a bit of sheen that I would equate more with a semi-matte finish. As a result of this faux matte formula of sorts, Viva Glam I isn't nearly as drying as some other matte lipsticks, and I found that my lips still felt quite comfortable hours later. And it lasts beautifully, only really budging after eating.

Viva Glam I strikes me as a sophisticated and chic red that screams confidence, and it truly is a one-red-suits-most kinda shade. Sure, when worn with the wrong look it carries the potential to be aging, but when paired with fresh skin and simple eyes, this deepened red will take you places, ladies.


Five Product Makeup.

The Five Product Makeup tag has to be one of my favorites ever. I love seeing which five product types people deem to be their "necessities," and I was excited to get to work after being tagged by Kelly from A Blog of Vain Pleasures. (By the way, Kelly's blog should really have more followers. It's AMAZING.)

When I first did this tag a few years ago, my main goal was to find a few multitasking products so that my chosen five products could function more as six or seven. This time around, I decided to challenge myself a bit more and steer clear of my Stila Covertible Colors and the like, and dip my toes outside my comfort zone by only using each product for one purpose. I wanted to see if I could put together a cohesive look that actually looked like it only required five products.

My absolute makeup necessities are brows, mascara and concealer, so Shu Uemura Hard Formula Eyebrow Pencil in Stone Gray, Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Volumizing Mascara and NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard were immediately added to the pile. The last two products took a bit more umming and ahhing. I opted for Chanel Les Beiges in 30 over blush or traditional bronzer and used it to warm up my complexion, and in anticipation of a relatively simple and subdued face, NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella was added to the mix as the focus of the look.

Although it felt a bit odd for me to avoid powdering my t-zone, I actually quite like how dewy my skin turned out. If I could add two more things to this look, it would definitely be winged liner and a touch of highlight on my cheeks and in the inner corner of my eyes, but alas, the Seven Product Makeup is not a tag.


Bedtime Essentials.

I'm simple when it comes to my bedtime ritual. The only two things I'm after are calm and intense hydration.

I like drinking an extra hot, non-caffeinated tea before bed, and lately, I've been favoring the Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride Tea from Celestial Seasonings. It's warm, soothing, and helps prepare me for my slumber.

The hydration requirement is a bit more involved. I slather on a healthy dose of L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, and about twice a week, I'll use the Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil for good measure. I'm liberal with my hand cream, possibly to a fault, but my skin just drinks it up. I blame it on the constant hand washing. If my elbows or knees are feeling particularly dry or flaky, I'll massage in a small amount of the African Botanics Marula Intense Skin Repair Body Balm. This stuff cures dry patches infinitely better than any ol' body butter. Trust.

My lips have been loving the Osmia Organics Honey-Myrrh Lip Repair lately (can be purchased here), so I drown my lips in it while I'm lounging in bed, winding down from the day and watching Youtube videos on my iPad. It softens and moisturizes my kissers without feeling heavy or waxy. Immediately before bed, I apply a longtime favorite, C.O. Bigelow My Favorite Night Balm. It's still the best overnight lip balm I've tried to date. I've lost count of how many tubes I've gone through.

What are some of your bedtime essentials?

Disclosure: The Osmia Organics Honey-Myrrh Lip Repair was sent to me for consideration for a review. I am not affiliated with the company, nor am I getting paid for this post. The opinions expressed in this post are honest and based solely on my own experience with the product.


Magic in a Pot: African Botanics Marula Intense Skin Repair Body Balm.

It's no secret I'm a big fan of multipurpose products. Aren't we all, though? I'd seen a couple rave reviews of the African Botanics Marula Intense Skin Repair Body Balm (namely, Amelia Liana's and Joyce's) and recently decided to splurge on a pot to call my own. I've been using the balm for a few weeks now, and surprise, surprise....it's love.

The African Botanics Intense Skin Repair Body Balm claims to regenerate cells, heal, protect and prevent skin irritation, soften, calm and nourish inflamed skin, and so much more.

It contains all natural ingredients, including:
:: Marula Oil to heal skin tissue and help reduce the appearance of scars
:: Shea Butter to increase skin elasticity and hydration
:: Helichrysum to heal acne and scars
:: Honey for its antibacterial and moisture retaining properties
:: Green Rooibos Tea Extract to even out skin texture and pigmentation and encourage cell turnover 

Its soothing, anti-inflammatory properties make it great for windburns and sunburns; its intense moisturization properties make it ideal for dry and dehydrated skin; and its repairing properties make it a notable contender for healing cuts, burns and other skin irritations. I can't think of many skin concerns this balm can't tackle.

The Intense Skin Repair Body Balm is incredibly thick and has a rather dry, paste-like texture in the pot, but it literally transforms itself once warmed up either in the palm of your hand or with your fingertips. It's worth noting that it has a light and fresh scent that I believe most would find unoffensive, if not enjoyable. I enjoy taking advantage of the product's multi-use claims and have been using it for several different purposes. 

Firstly, I've been using it nightly in place of eye cream because my usual eye creams have been causing me eczema-like reactions lately, and not only does the balm soothe and heal my irritated eye area, but it also hydrates and nourishes like nothing I've tried before. Secondly, I massage a tiny amount into my acne scars as part of my nighttime skincare routine, and I've seen a visible difference after only a few short weeks of use, particularly in some of the newer marks. Lastly, to help manage some of the intensely dry skin I often suffer with when the temperatures drop, I work a bit of the balm into my dry knees and elbows before bed and wake up with insanely soft skin.

Admittedly, the balm is priced quite high at $55, and I struggle between categorizing it as a luxury item vs. a necessity, because in reality, it's kind of both. The good news is, each pot comes with a whopping 58 ml or 1.96 fl.oz., and considering how little product is needed for each use, I'd imagine one pot will stick around for quite a long while.

African Botanics Marula Intense Skin Repair Body Balm is available from Beauty.com for $55.

The Monday Post #6

Monday is by far the gloomiest day of the week for me, followed by Sunday simply because it precedes Monday. Hopefully, The Monday Post will give you some beauty inspiration and help you get through the week! 

Favorite beauty read/viewing: For those who have a makeup collection currently suffering from clutter and overflow (*raises hand*), Temptalia has a fantastic post on How to Organize Your Makeup - My Tips and Tricks that is incredibly detailed and informative, complete with fabulous suggestions for specific storage pieces. Can you imagine the size of her collection? If she can keep hers organized and tidy, so can I, dammit.

Beauty goal: I'm going to attempt to push aside my Laura Mercier Artist's Palette and LORAC PRO Palette for a little while and show some of my other eyeshadows some love. Not sure I'll be successful though.

Product Rediscovery: I repurchased the e.l.f. Blush Brush a few weeks ago on a whim (I think I gave my old one to my sister), and I've absolutely been loving using it. The smaller size makes it easy to place the color exactly where you want it. Such a steal for only $3.

Beauty lust: I've been lusting after the Sunday Riley Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer for a while now, but sadly, it's sold out every time there's a deal going on, so I haven't picked it up yet. I'm not entirely sure I want it quite enough to spend full price at the moment. Another one on the wishlist? LORAC PRO To Go Eye/Cheek Palette. Like I need another palette, but whatever.

Most looking forward to: I'm finishing up my last week of my current rotation now, then I'll be going home to California for two months! Woohoo, SUNSHINE! Hopefully, that means better lighting for blog photos too :)

Hope you all have a great week!

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My Favorite Look This Week #6

Admittedly, my product choices have been a bit of a snooze-fest lately, because I just seem to reach for the same products over and over again. I guess these could also be considered some of my current favorites.
Sonia Kashuk Shine Luxe Sheer Lip Colour in Sheer Pink Lust
Make Up For Ever Pro Finish Foundation Powder in 120
MAC Blush in Hang Loose

Although I don't necessarily think the Artist's Palette is a must-have per se, I've really been enjoying using it nonetheless. Since I had been dipping my brush into the purple tones in the palette a lot lately, I decided to go for a brown smokey eye on this particular day, opting for Bamboo on the lid, a layered combo of Truffle and Espresso Bean on the outer third of the lid, Fresco to blend everything out past the crease, and Vanilla Nuts lightly on the brow bone. I also smudged a bit of black liner into my top lash line to make my lashes appear darker and thicker to better fit the smokiness.

Ever since rediscovering Hang Loose in my stash several weeks ago, I've been rocking the slightly shimmery, cool, pale pink flush rather a lot. I think I like it more on me now that I'm at my palest, since I was quite a bit more tanned when I purchased it years ago and rarely reached for it. I find that when the two shades are swirled together, the shimmery lavender adds just the right amount of sparkle and sheen, making Hang Loose one of those highlighter-and-blush-in-one kind of products.

And Sheer Pink Lust. This lipstick is such a staple. See how natural and glossy my lips look? I love how well it complements any look, but especially a heavier eye. And it is so moisturizing.

I really liked that this brown smokey eye had a bit of softness to it, and paired with the baby pink cheeks and lips, it created a romantic look with an edge, rather than an in-your-face going out look.

I'll try to put my Artist's Palette away soon in an attempt to mix up my MFLTW posts, but I can't say it won't be a struggle.

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