Thursday, November 27, 2014

Must Haves From NARS

Everyone has their favourite make-up brand. You know, a brand that they turn to time and time again and there always seems to be a product (or five) on their wishlist. For me, that brand is NARS and over the past year or so I have found myself becoming more and more drawn towards it. Yes, there have been a few poor shade choices here and there, but I don't think that I have ever been let down by the quality of a product and, even though it's a little more pricey than I would like, that particular aspect is something that I'm willing to turn a blind eye to. I own a fair few bits from the brand (although I'm sure my collection would pale in comparison to some hardcore #NARSissists out there) and today I thought I would go through my NARS 'must haves'. Obviously, it's not essential to own these products, but this post might come in handy for those who are unfamiliar with the brand and are looking to start off their collection with a few good quality products.

I'll begin with blush, because that was where my NARS obsession began and I firmly believe that everyone should own/try out at least one of these bad boys. I own three - 'Deep Throat', a warm peachy pink shade with a hint of golden shimmer, 'Douceur', a dusky pink/brown shade with a matte finish, and 'Luster', a warm apricot with golden shimmer - and even though I'm not a major blush fan, I desperately want more. Why oh why didn't I get my hands on that Guy Bourdin Palette when it was available?! All three that I own are completely different shade-wise, but they do have one thing in common - they are incredibly good quality and last from morning until night. If I had to pick a favourite, I would probably go with 'Douceur', simply because I feel that it suits my complexion the most and fulfils all of my blush needs. I would even go so far as to say that if I had to pick just one blush from any brand ever, then this would be the one. To the best of my knowledge, it is shortly going to be discontinued from the range so I would highly recommend picking one up for yourself ASAP. For bronzer, I had to include the infamous 'Laguna'. This was my bronzer of choice for the majority of the year and, even though I've moved onto others such as Benefit's Hoola in recent times, this is one that I always come back to (the fact that I've hit pan in a major way says it all really). If you are fair skinned and looking for a bronzer that doesn't lean too orange, then look no further than NARS Laguna. 

If you're an eyeshadow palette hoarder like me, then you NEED to try what NARS has to offer. The quality is right up there with the likes of Urban Decay and MAC and, although a little pricey, they are well worth the investment. They are highly pigmented, incredibly long lasting and apply smoothly with little to no fall out. I'm not sure if the limited edition NARSissist Palette is still available to buy, but if it is I would definitely recommend snapping one up before it's too late. I lusted after this palette for so long, and it didn't disappoint once I finally managed to nab one for myself. A predominantly neutrals palette that contains basically every shade needed to create any sort of eye make-up look, this palette is one that's not to be missed out on. Another favourite is the And God Created The Woman Palette, which contains six of the most beautiful neutral shades known to mankind all housed in one little travel friendly palette. Again, this palette contains shades suitable for both day and night and every other occasion in between, and if you are a neutrals eyeshadow obsessive like me then you need this in your life. 

Out of the two NARS base products that I own (Sheer Glow Foundation and Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser), I would definitely go with the latter as being a must have. Yes, it may be a little premature to label a purchase as recent as this one as a 'must have', but I know a good base when I see one and this tinted moisturiser is one of the best that I've come across in a long time. It is lightweight and sheer but still evens out the skin tone beautifully, and the dewy finish always helps to fake a healthy glow even when I'm looking and feeling a little worse for wear. And for concealer? Yes, you've guessed it correctly. I wasn't going to finish off this post without mentioning the Radiant Creamy Concealer. For those who haven't tried it, yes, it really is that good and I rave about it to anyone that will listen. It melts into the skin like a dream and doesn't look cakey like a lot of full coverage concealers can. I use it for both under eye dark circles and blemishes/facial redness and it never lets me down. There's a reason why I have invested in three of these bad boys! And last but not least is a lip product which comes in the form of the Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in the shade 'Cruella', which is the most perfect deep red shade for this time of year. If you're after a festive red to get you through next month that is creamy, pigmented, long lasting and comfortable whilst still having a matte finish, then look no further than this NARS lip offering. 

What are your favourite products from NARS?
Lots of love, Rachael 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Best Base Brushes

Since I began blogging, one of the biggest things I have learned is the importance of investing in a good set of brushes for make-up application. I find that they make a huge difference to the overall finish of my make-up, and over the past year or so I have really built up quite the collection. Today I thought I would focus on my favourite foundation and concealer brushes, and give you the low down on the ones that I turn to when I want that flawless finish which, if I'm being honest, is pretty much every day. 

I don't think it will come as any surprise to see that three out of my five brush picks are from Real Techniques - they really are some of the best quality, affordable brushes out there and I'm not ashamed to say that I own nearly every brush available from the line. I think I would have to say that my favourite and most reliable is the Buffing Brush which comes as part of the 'Core Collection'. I just adore this brush for foundation application and it gets the job done every single time. I recently bit the bullet and bought the entire 'core collection' set again, just so that I could have a second in my collection and it was totally worth it. It buffs foundation in so well and gives an almost airbrushed finish, and the bristles feel so soft against my skin. It works well for all foundation types, including mineral powder foundation, but I especially love it for higher coverage bases as it sheers them out nicely. I also own two of the Expert Face Brush, which is slightly smaller and more densely packed compared to the Buffing Brush. It offers better control and allows me to easily apply product to harder to reach places like around the nose and eye areas. This brush is an amazing little multi-tasker, and I use it for a lot more than just foundation application - it also works well for blending in concealer over larger areas, blending out blush and bronzer, and applying cream pigments. For concealer, there is one stand out brush that I return to time and time again - the Real Techniques Setting Brush. This brush makes applying concealer to the under eye area an absolute dream. It buffs even the highest coverage concealers in beautifully, and it never fails to give that airbrushed finish that I'm always after. Because of the small size and shape of the brush head, it is also ideal for powdering smaller areas like underneath the eyes and highlighting targeted areas. 

One of my favourite make-up brush brand discoveries of 2014 has most definitely been Zoeva, and ever since I invested in the Rose Golden Brush Set I have been dying to get my hands on a few more brushes from the range - they truly are incredible quality for the price. The 102 Silk Finish has turned out to be an absolute cracker of a brush for base application, and it's one that I couldn't be without (and that's not me being biased because of the rose gold packaging). It buffs liquid and mineral powder foundation in beautifully and leaves the most flawless, streak free finish. Compared to the RT Buffing Brush, it gives more of a fuller coverage finish which is down to the bristles being more densely packed. When it comes to base brushes, a lot of people rave about the Sephora Mineral Powder Brush and, even though I don't own it, I have seen blog photos of it enough times to know that the two look to be very similar. And lastly is the Sigma F80 Flat Top Kabuki Brush which I have strayed from in recent times but I still love it enough to include it in a 'favourite base brush line up'. This is the most dense of all of the base brushes that I own, and is the one that I turn to when I want an uber flawless and airbrushed finish. It is a must have if you're a fan of a fuller coverage look, and want a brush that is going to buff your foundation seamlessly into your skin in next to no time.  

What are you favourite base brushes?
Lots of love, Rachael 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Sephora Splurge

A trip to Paris (or any other major European city for that matter) is not complete without a visit to Sephora, and when I was in the French capital for a few days over the weekend I made it my business to check out the store on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. This flagship store really is something else, and as soon as I sat foot in the place I knew I was home. It is a beauty addicts dream and I'm not even kidding when I say that my face basically turned into something resembling a heart eyed emoji for the time that I was there.

Whenever I'm abroad and feel like treating myself to a few new make-up bits, I always try to purchase things that I know I either can't buy  or are difficult to hunt down at home (it makes me feel less guilty), so I headed straight for the NARS stand. I don't know why, but NARS is ridiculously difficult to get a hold of in Ireland and to the best of my knowledge there is only one stand in the whole country. It is possible to buy online of course (which is why my collection isn't too shabby), but this can pose a bit of a problem if you are looking to get colour matched. I grabbed another Radiant Creamy Concealer in the shade 'Vanilla', which is actually my third time purchasing one of these bad boys - and yes, I feel that the €27 price tag is totally worth it. This concealer is a replacement for the one that I dropped and smashed a while back - I had been making do with the shade 'Honey', but now that summer is nothing but a distant memory it was slowly but surely getting to be too dark for my skin tone. So I think that the shade 'Vanilla' will take me through the winter months just nicely. I had been interested in trying out the Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser for quite a while, and finally decided to pick it up whilst I had the opportunity to get colour matched. Buying the wrong shade of NARS Sheer Glow Foundation online meant that I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice, and I'm super happy with what I ended up with - 'Light 2 Alaska'. I haven't actually worn it yet so I can't give my thoughts on it just yet, but considering the fact that I tend to gravitate towards lightweight and sheer bases more often than not, I am fairly positive that we will get along just nicely. Whilst at the NARS counter I was very tempted to pick up the new Virtual Domination Cheek Palette (it just looked so pretty!), but I didn't give in. Round of applause please! €55 was perhaps a little too pricey considering the fact that I'm not a major blush fan, and I already own full sizes of two of the shades ('Deep Throat' and 'Laguna'). I had heard lots about the Make Up Forever Smoky Lash Mascara and had wanted to try it for a while, so when I came across the Smoky Lash Kit that offered the mascara plus a free mini Aqua Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil and mini Sens'Eyes Waterproof Sensitive Eye Cleanser I knew that it was a deal not to be missed out on. I have given the mascara a go but I'll need to try it out a few more times before I can come to any conclusion on it. I have heard that it gets better with age and works better once it dries out a little, so I'm excited to see how it will fare over the next few weeks. Given how much everybody bangs on about them, I knew that I had to try out one of the Sephora brushes and after much deliberation I finally settled on the Sephora Contour Bronzer Brush #46. I actually don't intend to use this kabuki style brush for contouring or bronzing (I don't that that would work out too well), but rather have it in mind for foundation application. The bristles are densely packed, feel super soft on the skin, and I have a feeling that it is going to make applying my base a super quick and easy process. 

My last two Sephora purchases - the Sephora Daily Makeup Brush Cleaner and Sephora Cream Lip Stain in 01 Always Red were actually purchased in Rome when I was there about a month ago, but I decided to lump everything in together under the one post. I thought that the brush cleaner would come in super handy for spot cleaning my eye make-up brushes in the mornings, but I'm too scared to use it again after I tried it on my MAC 239 and it ended up turning the bristles green. Maybe I didn't use it correctly... Does anybody else own this?! I'm not massively into red lips, but it is important to have a couple of staples and so I decided to pick up one of the Cream Lip Stains in Always Red after reading one too many rave reviews. This stuff is seriously creamy and pigmented and glides onto the lips beautifully. Even though it is marketed as a stain, I have found that it doesn't stay on the lips for quite as long as I was led to believe, but nevertheless it a super pretty classic red shade and I'm sure I will get plenty of wear out of it.    

Have you purchased anything in Sephora recently?
Lots of love, Rachael