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Monday, July 30, 2012

Tarte Cosmetics Friends + Family Sale 2012: 30% OFF Entire Order + Free Shipping

Receive 30% OFF* your purchase + FREE Shipping on orders $40 and up! Use code FFAUG at checkout. Expires 8/6. *Details at

Tarte Cosmetics is having a Friends & Family Sale and is offering 30% off entire order (no minimum) + free shipping on any purchase of $40 or more. Enter coupon code FFAUG at checkout. Offer expires August 6, 2012. 

I plan on getting their new foundation and maybe some blushers

What will you be stocking up on?

*This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Swatches & Comparisons: NYX Nude Matte Eyeshadow in Skinny Dip + Confession

I purchased 2 NYX Nude Matte eyeshadows during Ulta's 20% OFF Friends & Family Sale last week. They also had a Buy 1, Get 1 50% off promotion. So, my total came up to $5.99 and I absolutely regret not getting more NYX products. 

The 20% off sale is still going on right now and ends July 28, 
but the Buy 1, Get 1 50% off promotion has expired. 

  • texture feels slightly silky & buttery
  • great pigmentation when layered & used with a primer
  • applies evenly
  • blends easily
  • does not look chalky
  • doesn't crease when used with a primer
  • lasts at least 12 hours without fading 
  • no fallouts during application
  • no chunky glitters
  • affordable
  • can be depotted and the pan fits in the MAC and empty 28 pan eyeshadow palettes
  • containers are wrapped in plastic seal

  • both shades are not truly matte (This is only a con because NYX claims that they have a matte finish. I personally do not mind that there is a slight sheen to them.)
  • gets dusty in the pan

Packaging: The NYX Nude Matte eyeshadows are housed in a black container with a lid that flips open, which look quite similar to MAC's packaging. The only difference is that the NYX ones have a glossy finish and feel lighter. I'm also glad that they're wrapped in plastic seal because it's easier to detect whether anyone has tampered with them with their dirty fingers.

The pans are the same size as MAC's eyeshadows and they fit perfectly in my empty 28 pan eyeshadow palette. (Keep in mind, you need to put a magnet behind the pan for it to "stick" to the palette. I use the thin round ones that MAC uses for their refill pans. They can be purchased at craft stores or on ebay.) I also depot the NYX eyeshadows the same way that I depot my MAC eyeshadows, which is super easy and quick. The only problem is that the label on the back of the pot is slightly larger than the eyeshadow pan. So, I had to cut the label to the size that I needed and the results looked ugly. (I'm not crafty and I don't know how to cut out a perfect circle without butchering it.) However, I don't mind the way that it looks because the label is on the back of the pan, where no one can see it and it's only there for reference.

(To depot, flip the lid open, pop out the plastic insert by using a tweezer, scissor or butter knife, place the plastic insert on a hair straightener for 20 seconds to 45 seconds, wear gloves & remove the plastic insert from the hair straightener, turn the plastic insert upside down and push the pan out onto a soft surface, using a tweezer, scissor or butter knife. To remove the label on the back of the pot, place the pot on the hair straightener for 10 seconds and then remove the label using a tweezer.)

From Top Left Clockwise:  NYX Skinny Dip depotted ~ NYX Confession depotted ~ MAC Carbon refill pan ~ MAC Copperplate depotted

Application: Both of the NYX eyeshadows apply evenly without looking chalky. They have a slight buttery texture to them and they feel softer than MAC's eyeshadows. For this reason, they can get really dusty and messy in the pan, but they also blend alot easier. 

I didn't experience any fallouts during application. (Just make sure you use a dense brush and tap off any excess before applying.) They also last at least 12 hours on my eyes without fading. (I have oily lids and never test eyeshadows without using a primer underneath.)

NYX Nude Matte Eyeshadow in Skinny Dip (1.6g for $4.99) is a medium burgundy shade with a hint of purple and a satin finish. It is not a true matte shade because it has a slight sheen to it. Taz is more intense and has a more reddish undertone, while Sorcery is more brown.

The pigmentation is not as great as the other eyeshadows, but it's easily buildable and offers great pigmentation with 2 layers. I love using it in the crease or in the corner, right above the over v for a pop of color and to spice up a neutral eye look.

NYX Nude Matte Eyeshadow in Confession (1.6g for $4.99) is dark grey shade with a satin finish. It is not a true matte shade because it has a slight sheen to it. When I swatched it at Ulta, it looked slightly forest-green. However, when I went home and applied it onto my arm and eyes, I couldn't see any hint of green in any lighting, including artificial and natural.

If you find black to be too dark and dramatic for the day time, then I highly recommend Confession as an alternative because it looks less harsh and it still creates depth and dimension to the eyes. I absolutely love using it on my outer v. Also, the pigmentation is just as great as MAC's eyeshadows!

(Outdoor Natural Lighting)

(Indoor Natural Lighting)

Bottom Line: Generally, I find that drugstore eyeshadows are inferior to the mid-range and high-end brands. However, the NYX eyeshadows have exceeded my expectations and I highly recommend getting both because the quality is amazing. They apply evenly, blend like a dream and last all day without creasing or fading. Also, they are very versatile and can be applied sheer or layered for a more intense look. I hope NYX plans to expand their color range because I'll definitely be picking up more.

Note: The NYX Nude Matte eyeshadows are available for purchase on their online store and at Ulta for $4.99 each. Sorcery is limited edition and has been discontinued. Taz contains 1.3g and is available at Suite7Beauty for $6. Copperplate & Carbon each contain 1.5g and are available at Nordstrom for $15 (pot) and $11.50 (refill pan). The empty 28 pan palette can be purchased from Coastal Scents for $9.95.

*This post contains affiliate links.

Have you tried any of the NYX Nude Matte eyeshadows?
Do you prefer matte, satin or shimmery eyeshadows?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ulta Coupon Code 2012: 20% OFF Sale Extended

If you missed out on Ulta's Friends & Family sale last week, don't worry. Ulta extended their 20% off sale* for one more week. Offer expires July 28, 2012.

I purchased Big Sexy Hair's shampoo and conditioner, which were 50% off retail price and I used 2 $3.50 off coupons. I also got some NYX Nude Matte eyeshadows, which I posted on Pinterest.

*affiliate link

What are you stocking up on?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

First Impressions: Sephora Pro Contour Brush #74

The Sephora Pro Contour Brush #74 looks similar to the MAC 109 Small Contour Brush; however, they are not dupes. The MAC 109 is slightly bigger, rounder and denser. Both brushes are made from natural hair and feel really soft. I have not experienced any shedding with them when used with powder products. (I don't recommend using them to apply liquid foundation since they are made from natural hair, which tend to absorb alot of product and shed when used with liquid or cream products.)

Because the MAC 109 is denser and firmer, it's more suitable for contouring and for buffing out over-applied products, such as blush. I find that the Sephora #74 is more appropriate for applying setting powder under the eye area, since the bristles are not as densely packed. Also, it won't pack on too much product or leave a cakey finish. 

It may seem like the Sephora #74 is too small for applying blush. However, it actually fits nicely on the cheek area because the bristles flare out a little bit when you apply the product onto the skin. It's also great for applying bronzer. You could also use the side of the brush to highlight the top of the cheekbones and to contour, but I prefer the MAC 109 for that type of application because it's firmer and gives me more control. Keep in mind that although the Sephora #74 is not as dense as the MAC 109, it is by no means floppy or flimsy.

Packaging: Sephora recently revamped their professional brush line and released over 30 new brushes with a black glossy handle. The handle of the old version was platinum. The MAC 109 has a matte black handle.

The ferrule of the Sephora brush is embossed with their logo on one side and the number of the brush on the other side. Also, it comes with a thick plastic brush guard that snaps open and shut and it's suppose to protect the brush during travel. The brush fluffed out a bit after the initial wash, so it no longer fits in the case without it pinching the bristles. However, it's not a big deal for me because I usually store my brushes in a brush roll or my Sigma Brush Cup Holder when I'm travelling. 

Note: The Sephora Pro Contour Brush #74 measures 8 inches in total length and is available at Sephora for $30. The MAC 109 Small Contour Brush measures 7.25 inches in total length and is available at Nordstrom for $34. 

*This post contains affiliate links.

Have you tried any of Sephora's new professional black handle brushes?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Benefit Flash Sale 2012: Exclusive Complexion, Lip and Cheek Kits

Benefit Cosmetics is offering an exclusive access to 6 new complexion, lip & cheek kits, which includes their top selling products. The kits are only available on their online store* until July 20 at 9am PST.

*affiliate link

Review + Comparison: Royal & Langnickel SILK Pro Synthetic Hair 12 PC Brush Set

case measures 10" x 0.45" x 8.75" when opened

The Royal & Langnickel SILK Pro 12pc Brush Set comes with 12 brushes, all of which are made from synthetic material and feel very soft like a bunny's bum. (Don't worry, no animals were harmed during the manufacturing process.) The bristles retain their shape very well and they do not splay, even without using the plastic brush guard that comes with the set. Also, I did not experience any shedding with any of the brushes.

case measures 4.75" x 0.85" x 8.75" when closed 

The C101 powder brush and C111 blush brush come with their own plastic brush guard.

Packaging: The 12pc set comes with a faux leather case, which is very slim, lightweight and travel friendly. It may seem like there are only 12 brush slots inside, but there are actually 14 brush slots because there is a tiny slot on each end of the case, which is perfect for storing brushes with a thin handle, such as the Royal & Langnickel C212, C441 and C491. Other brands of brushes will fit nicely in the case too.

The handles are attached to a nickel ferrule and are matte black, which looks attractive, classy and professional. They are also full-size, which is a major plus for me because (1) I like my brushes to look uniform and (2) they won't get lost or be hard to find if I store them in my brush holder.

Scroll down to find out how they perform individually!

Sonia Kashuk Large Powder Brush ~ C101 ~ C111 ~ Studio Gear #13

Sonia Kashuk Large Powder Brush ~ C101 ~ C111 ~ Studio Gear #13

Royal & Langnickel Silk Pro Synthetic C101 Powder Brush is ideal for applying setting powder and bronzer to the face, neck and decollete. The brush head is bigger, wider and denser than the C111 and Studio Gear #13 brush (review). The Sonia Kashuk brush is slightly wider at the tip and is not as dense. I find that the C101 gives me better control because of its density, but it also provides a light application of product because of its synthetic bristles. (Synthetic hairs tend to apply products more lightly than natural hairs.) For this reason, it always makes my makeup look natural and not cakey. (The brush takes about 11 hours to dry, but if you use a paper towel to absorb the excess water, then it'll take about 4.5 hours to dry. It measures 7 inches in total length. It can be purchased individually for $24.99.)

Royal & Langnickel Silk Pro Synthetic C111 Blush Brush is ideal for applying blush and bronzer. The brush head is slightly longer and less dense than the Studio Gear #13 brush, but it is by no means flimsy. I love using it to apply highly pigmented blushers because it deposits the right amount of product without making me look like a clown. The tip of the brush has a wide oval shape and it's great for sweeping the product back and forth, upwards towards the hairline. The side of the brush can be used in a tapping motion for a precise application of product on the apple of the cheeks. (The brush takes about 11 hours to dry, but if you use a paper towel to absorb the excess water, then it'll take about 4 hours to dry. It measures 7.25 inches in total length. It can be purchased individually for $19.99.)

Royal & Langnickel Silk Pro Synthetic C201 Foundation Brush is ideal for applying liquid and cream foundation. The brush head is thick and the bristles are not too flimsy, which allows it to apply the product evenly without streaking. It is also a great size for the face and it can get under the eye area really well when using the flat side of the brush. When using the tip, it fits nicely around the nose area and the small crevices of the face. (The brush takes about 5.5 hours to dry. It measures 7 inches in total length.)

C411 old version ~ C411 new version ~ C212 ~ C601

C411 old version ~ C411 new version ~ C212 ~ C601

Royal & Langnickel Silk Pro Synthetic C411 MD Eye Shader Brush is ideal for applying and blending eyeshadows. This brush comes with the 12pc set, but I also purchased it individually about a year ago and the handle is slightly longer and not as matte. The brush head is also thinner and firmer than the new version, which is thicker and fluffier, but it's by no means flimsy. It still offers great control and I actually prefer it over the old version because it's more multi-functional. It's great for (1) spot concealing and for applying cream eyeshadows because the bristles don't absorb as much product as natural bristles do and it distributes the product evenly, (2) for applying a sheer wash of color onto the lids or an intense amount when layered, (3) for defining the eye when using the tip of the brush, and (4) for softening harsh edges. This is definitely a must-have for me because I can kill at least 4 birds with this one brush. Ha! (It only takes about 3 hours to dry and measures 6.70 inches in total length. It can be purchased individually for $10.99. )

Royal & Langnickel Silk Pro Synthetic C212 Concealer Brush is ideal for spot concealing and for applying eyeshadow on the upper & lower lash line. The brush is thin, firm and small, which allows it to provide excellent control. I love using it to apply powder eyeshadow on my upper lash line to set my eyeliner. It also works well for filling in the eyebrows because it deposits a light amount of product, thereby creating a more soft and natural appearance to the brows. Those with a smaller eye shape will find this brush to also be great for applying cream eyeshadows. (The brush only takes about 2 hours to dry. It measures 6 inches in total length.)

Royal & Langnickel Silk Pro Synthetic C601 Lip Brush is ideal for applying lip products & eyeliner and for filling in the brows. Because the brush is thin and firm, the tip is great for shaping the mouth, while the side is great for filling in color. I also like using it to apply eyeliner because it allows me to create a line that's not too thick or too thin. It can also be used for applying eyeshadow on the lower lash line or upper lash line to set eyeliner and for filling in the eyebrows. When compared to the C212 brush, the C601 brush offers a more precise application and leaves a more concentrated amount of product. (The brush only takes about 2 hours to dry. It measures 6.75 inches in total length. It can be purchased individually for $4.99.)

Chanel #19 ~ NARS #12 ~ C422 ~ Inglot 80HP ~ C441

Royal & Langnickel Silk Pro Synthetic C422 Smudger Brush is ideal for highlighting the inner corner of the eye, applying eyeshadow on the outer corner of the eye and smudging. The Chanel #19 (review) is bigger and more suitable for crease work, while the C422 is firmer and more suitable for detail work. However, those with a small eye shape will find the C422 to be a more appropriate for crease work. The NARS #12 is flimsier and doesn't offer as much control. When compared to the Inglot 80HP, the C422 is just as firm, but it has a pointed tip, so it allows for a more precise application. It is one of my favorite brushes from this set because it's so versatile. (The brush only takes about 2 hours to dry. It measures 6.85 inches in total length. It can be purchased individually for $7.99.)

Royal & Langnickel Silk Pro Synthetic C441 Liner Brush is ideal for detail work, lining the eyes, defining the outer v, and applying eyeshadow on the lower lash line. The bristles are densely packed and feel very firm. It's thinner and offers more precision than the C422. I thought that the C441 was going to be too thick for applying eyeliner, but it actually creates a line that's not too thick or too thin because it has a thin pointed tip. This has become another one of my favorites from this brush set. (It measures 6.50 inches in total length. It can be purchased individually for $5.99.)

C501 ~ C491 ~ C451 ~ C521

C501 ~ C491 ~ C451

Royal & Langnickel Silk Pro Synthetic C501 Angle Fluff Brush is ideal for crease work, blending eyeshadows and applying a sheer wash of color onto the lids. The bristles are not as densely packed as the C411 brush, but it's not too flimsy and still offers great control. The tip of the longer end of the brush fits perfectly right above the crease area and I love using it to apply my transition color. It's also great for defining the crease and for blending out light colors. (The brush only takes about 3 hours to dry. It measures 7 inches in total length. It can be purchased individually for $5.99.)

Royal & Langnickel Silk Pro Synthetic C491 Angled Brow Brush is ideal for applying eyeliner and for filling in the brows. The brush is very thin and firm, so it allows you to get close to the lash line and to create a very thin & natural looking line. It also has an angled shape, so the tip of the longer end of the brush makes it easier to reach the inner corner of the eye. Therefore, I love using it to set my eyeliner with a powder eyeshadow. It's also great for shaping the brows if you prefer a more precise application. (The brush only takes about 2 hours to dry. It measures 6.25 inches in total length.)

Royal & Langnickel Silk Pro Synthetic C451 Flat Eyeliner Brush is ideal for tightlining and for applying eyeshadow & eyeliner on the lower lash line. The brush is thin and firm, and it offers great control. It creates a line that's not too thick or thin; however, it's difficult to get into the inner corner of my upper lash line because I have hooded eyes. I prefer to use the brush to apply eyeshadow on my lower lash line because it gives a precise application and it doesn't tug or irritate my skin. (The brush only takes about 2 hours to dry. It measures 6 inches in total length.)

Royal & Langnickel Silk Pro C521 Brow Lash Groomer Brush is ideal for shaping the brows and separating the lashes. I love using the metal comb to remove mascara clumps because it can easily separate each and every one of my lashes. The plastic ones just don't compare. Just be careful not to poke your eyes out with it because the metal teeth are really sharp. The spoolie end of the brush grooms the eyebrows into place and softens the color of your brow product to create a more natural appearance. (The brush measures 7 inches in total length. It can be purchased individually for $9.99 and it also comes with an additional brow comb that's attached on the back of the metal comb.)

Bottom Line: The 12pc brush set is a great addition to any brush collection and it's also very travel friendly. It has everything that you need for a perfect makeup application! Also, it comes down to about 10 bucks per brush, which is extremely reasonable for the quality that you're getting. I highly recommend it, especially for those who are an avid user of cream products or for those who are just starting out with makeup and want a well-rounded brush set.

Note: The Royal & Langnickel SILK Pro Synthetic Hair 12 PC Brush Set retails for $119.99 and some of the brushes can be purchased individually on their online store. Also, for a limited time, you can get 40% off using coupon code ROYAL40 at checkout. The 40% discount can be applied to ALL Royal & Langnickel products and will expire by the end of this week.

*This post contains affiliate links and the products mentioned were provided by the manufacturer for consideration. This does not affect my opinion about the products. I don't do paid or guaranteed reviews. My reviews are based on my own honest opinion.

Have you tried any brushes from Royal & Langnickel's Silk Pro Line?
Do you prefer to buy brushes individually to tailor to your needs
or in sets for a better value?

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