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My pilgrimage to perfume.

Finding the perfect perfume.

For many years, I’ve gotten one of those Sephora perfume samplers for Christmas. I believe they’re available all year now, but for awhile, they were only available during the holidays. If you’ve never seen them, it’s basically a collection of perfume samples from their top 10-12 best sellers of the year. You get to try them all out, and then there’s a coupon tucked inside for a FREE 1-ounce bottle of your favorite one.

It’s seriously an awesome gift! Each year, I take this gift very seriously. I read all of the perfume descriptions, and I try them multiple times before I make my final decision. I know this seems really silly, but I definitely think of perfume as a complete luxury item. It’s not something we need, and it’s expensive. So, I want to get the right one.

Sometimes it takes me six months to make my decision and finally get to Sephora for my free bottle. Having said that, I definitely shattered my hand-selected bottle of Michael Kors’ Very Hollywood during my move to Texas two years ago. It fell off a shelf while I was packing, and despite its thick bottle (which was very pretty), it shattered and it was total heartbreak in slow motion. Ugh. It smelled wonderful.

Anyway, the sampler I got for Christmas in 2015 had some great scents in it, but I ruled my favorite pretty quickly: Burberry’s My Burberry. It has that masculine, wood smell that I love, but with a floral twist.

I went to Sephora… and they were out. Yes, I could have picked another perfume, or I could have purchased a different sized bottle and gotten money off for the 1-ounce freebie, but no. I waited.

I went back a few months later. Still out.

“If it’s on the sampler coupon, then we’re like, always out of it,” the saleswoman told me.

Uh, okay well that makes about zero sense. Still, I waited. I looked for other Sephora locations (you can’t use the coupon online). And waited.

And finally, I randomly stopped by that same Sephora Friday after work. Upon walking up to the shelf, I didn’t see it. But then, in the back, a 1-ounce box. What?!

I picked it up, looked around, and smiled (like a psycho). I walked briskly to the counter: IS THIS THE RIGHT ONE?! I tried to ask calmly, but I just thought it was too good to be true!

“Yep, it’s the one!” she said.

O M G.

I was even more delighted when I got home to open the box – the bottle is so pretty and even has a tortoise-shell cap!

To add a little more sparkle to this situation, she scanned my Beauty Insider card and saw I had a free birthday gift: I chose the Tarte set with the Matte Lip Paint in “Birthday Suit” (already used it and it’s the perfect nude) and the Clay 12-hour blush in “Pink Nude” (haven’t tried it just yet).

So, yeah – how perfect! This is my Monday motivation for you to persevere – even when it comes to perfume (ha)!

I still have my sampler set from LAST Christmas to tackle, but that’s a whole ‘nother adventure.

Comparing cosmetic primers.

What’s the best primer for you?

Over the last few months, I have been testing several different primers under my daily makeup to see which one I like best.

Primers seem to be all the rage, given that basically every cosmetic brand has one – but how are we supposed to know what’s going to work for us? Because I have a Birchbox subscription, I have been able to sample three great options that I’m going to share with you here, today!

But first, what the heck IS a primer? The Huffington Post offered a great, simple explanation: Makeup primer is a base for foundation or face makeup that allows it to go on smoother and last longer.

Primer can come in the form of sprays, gels, creams, and even powder. While most users apply primer prior to applying tinted moisturizer, concealer, and/or foundation, it can also be worn alone.

I have been applying my primer after my moisturizer, but before my concealer and foundation, which seems to work. The three primers I want to share with you today are all creams and gels. Personally, I’m not sure I’d trust a spray or powder primer.

Perfecting Ultra-Smoothing Primer – Sephora Collection

Smoothing primer.

According to Sephora.com, this is a makeup primer that perfects the appearance of skin and prolongs the wear of foundation. This primer softens the appearance of imperfections, prolongs the wear of your foundation, and keeps you looking flawless longer.

Infused with hydrating ceramides, this formula moisturizes and smooths, while protecting with antioxidant-rich vitamins E and A.

This product is not tested on animals, and does not contain parabens. This primer can be used on the eyes to smooth and enhance wear of eyeshadow.

This product is dermatologist tested, non-comedogenic, and comes in an airless pump bottle for freshness.

This is the primer I’m currently using, and I really like it. It goes on very smooth, and leaves a matte look that feels very soft and light on my skin. It’s clear, so you don’t have to worry about which shade to choose.

$29.99 for .5 ounces 

Prime Time – Bare Minerals 

Prime Time!

According to Ulta.com, this primer helps to combat enlarged pores. Uneven texture. Flaky dryness. We’ve all had complexion problems. That’s why we created Prime Time, which prepares your skin for seamless coverage with bareMinerals SPF 15 Foundation. Apply it first for the smooth, evenly textured complexion you’ve been waiting for.

Benefits:

Combats rough patches, flaky dryness, fine lines, excess oil, uneven texture and enlarged pores so that your foundation goes on flawlessly.

Extends the wear of your foundation, keeping you looking fresh for longer.

Soothes and nourishes with plant extracts, antioxidants and vitamins C and E.

Free of preservatives and irritants so that your skin feels great.

Silky formula glides on without any stickiness.

For Christmas, I got a sample pack of Bare Minerals makeup – I’d never tried it before and the kit contained this primer, the mineral veil foundation, an eyeshadow duo, and a lip gloss. I have quickly come to love all of it!

This primer is very, very similar to the Sephora mentioned above: it’s clear, has a gel-like consistency, and offers a smooth, matte finish. While in some stores, it is a little more pricy than the Sephora brand, it takes about a pea-size drop to cover the entire face, and has a very light feeling.

$19.30 for 1 ounce

Radiant Primer – IPKN New York

Radiant primer.

According to Birchbox.com, great foundation requires, well, a great foundation. This creamy SPF 15 primer creates a smooth, radiant canvas for makeup, refining pores and enhancing skin tone. And thanks to the blend of nourishing fruit extracts and shimmer pearl powder, your skin will glow whether you’re wearing this under foundation or under nothing at all.

This was the first primer that I tried and I loved that it was lightly tinted. I have red areas on my skin and blemishes that I’m always trying to cover up, so why not start building the mask with a primer?

I also appreciate that it has an SPF! The only reason I didn’t make this my favorite was because it has more of a glossy finish – and I prefer the matte. However, if matte isn’t your thing, this is a great starter.

It’s light, great for the skin, and could be worn alone. And it’s got a great price!

$22 for 1.3 ounces. 

I am still trying additional primers, so perhaps I’ll report back with something even better! If there’s one you’re using that you love, tell me about it in the comments.

9/50 Shades: Lovelorn.

Colors, colors everywhere.

Colors, colors everywhere.

Hey there! Just when you thought I’d forgotten about the “50 Shades” lipstick series, here I am with a new color.

I had to dig up a backup for #9 because, originally, I wanted to tell you all about one I’ve been using recently by Victoria’s Secret. It’s their Beauty Rush line in “Melon Out,” and it’s similar in texture to the tinted Carmex I featured in this post.

HOWEVER, upon looking at Victoria’s Secret website (as well as Amazon), it doesn’t look like it’s for sale anywhere, and I’d hate to feature a product on here that you can’t actually buy. I say all of that to say that having tried some of the VS lip products, they’re pretty good for the price.

LOVELORN.

LOVELORN.

Anyway, I’ve got another good color for you this time: Lovelorn, by MAC.

I used to love MAC makeup. Those were the days when my parents paid for things and/or I had no bills, so I could slap down any dollar amount for non-essential items. That day is NOT today, but I did buy this lipstick for a formal I had a few years ago. I wear it on special occasions and it’s been worth the $16 I believe it was.

Lipstick is actually the product that made MAC famous. The “Lovelorn” shade is part of their Lustre line, which promises a semi-gloss finish on the lip. In general, MAC lip products have a nice feel on the lips, a decent scent, and are long-lasting — well worth the money!

What are some products or perhaps experiences you splurged on and it ended up being totally worth it?

5/50 Shades: Tulip.

Covergirl Natureluxe Gloss Balm.

Covergirl Natureluxe Gloss Balm.

I’m still on the hunt for a great (or a few great) shades of pink to add to my makeup collection — and I recently tried CoverGirl’s Natureluxe Gloss Balm #205 in Tulip. I feel like a majority of the “shades” I’ve tried have been glosses/balms, and I think that’s just proof of my fear to go bold (though recently I’ve rocked a red lip a few times).

Let’s face it, great lipstick is difficult to find, given there’s so many factors involved. I also like gloss/balm because I can layer it with other colors or thicker textures.

While the feeling of the CoverGirl Tulip is good (though not as good as the tinted Carmex), the color is very sheer, and again, there is no flavor! The upside is that the “flavor” isn’t like lipstick (it’s just nothing, really), and you don’t need a mirror to apply it.

Given that it’s still winter, I think a balm is smart — it ads color, while moisturizing your lips and protecting them from cold weather.

In the case of a balm/gloss, I say go for the bolder color, because it’s going to appear sheer on the lip. While “Tulip” is a moderate pink, I think I’ll go for something darker next time so it makes more of a difference.

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This Christmas: go glam.

Merry Christmas Eve! I hope you all are prepping for a fantastic day filled with love, kindness, and okay, a little bit of glamour. One of my favorite things about Christmastime is having the excuse to pull out my glitter eyeliner, shimmery shadows, and bold colors.

I’ve always loved experimenting with makeup, and opening a few gifts under the tree that assist in my hobby never hurt anyone. Sure, I know you’ve already hit up some holiday parties, but there’s still time to get a fabulous look in for Santa’s arrival, and for the days leading up to New Year’s!

This year, glitter and gold are completely IN when it comes to holiday makeup — hallelujah! NY Magazine has 4 cool ways to wear gold eye makeup, including dusting loose gold glitter on your freshly mascara’d eyelashes (Yes!). Get the look:

Now, I’ve always admired Emma Stone — her style, her movies — so, when she stepped out this winter wearing matte red lips and slightly stained cheeks, I loved her a little more and knew I HAD to steal this look (check out Vogue for the details). Get the look:

Bobbi Brown Party Shimmer Brick

Bobbi Brown Party Shimmer Brick

I have always loved a smokey eye, and I found a great tutorial by Carli Bybel on a Grunge Glam Holiday look. I’ve never gotten into the whole makeup tutorial thing, but she does a really great job. To get the look (shown in the main picture above), Carli used:

 — Rimmel Scandal Eyes Shadow Stick — Makeup Geek Pigment in Nightlife — BH Cosmetics Forever Nude Palette — Katy Perry false lashes in Oh, Honey! — Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius Mascara in Black — Maybelline New York Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner in Blackest Black — MAC Fix — Bronze glitter powder — Nude lip pencil — Buttercup Lipstick by Gerard Cosmetics — NYX powder blush in Pinky — Bobbi Brown Party Shimmer Brick

To polish off your look, don’t forget a fabulous nail hue. Elle magazine has 30 cool nail colors for all of your holiday party nail-needs.

Whether you’re going out and about for the holiday, looking fabulous, or you’re cozied up at home (experimenting with your new makeup from Santa), I hope your Christmas is fantastic! I’m looking forward to sharing even more with you in the New Year.

Merry Christmas to all!