Product Review: Best picks for travel makeup

Helloooo! I took the month of September off from blogging, as life got a bit crazy with work and travel schedules. But nevertheless, that didn’t stop me from continuing to try out new products, and discover a few favorites in the process. I’ve got a bunch of new blog posts that I’m composing, and my first begins with the subject of travel-friendly makeup. I don’t think this topic is covered very well in most normal beauty or fashion magazines and blogs. Most of the attention is paid to luxury or prestige products, but there’s a huge need for many women to get solid recommendations on makeup that not only travels easily, but performs too. This could also apply to women who keep a touch-up stash in their desk drawer, in their gym bag, or just want fuss-free products. Travel is stressful enough, let alone worrying about a glass bottle of foundation or a compact of blush breaking apart inside of a suitcase. So, let’s get into my picks per my recent trip to Europe, and the reasons why I chose them!

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Before we even get into the product details, there was one requirement that I used when choosing the products: all of those selected did NOT need to be applied with makeup brushes. Reason being is that I only took 2 makeup brushes with me (a foundation and a blush brush), as I was trying to keep my bags as light as possible.

Ok, and now for the products! You may notice a common theme within the brands shown, and that is that the majority of what I selected are Julep products. I looooove Julep – they are a USA-based, K-beauty inspired brand, and I’ve always had great quality and performance from their products. But what I also love is that their products are very user-friendly, and the packaging reflects a no-fuss type of application style. Here are 3 of their products that I nabbed for my trip and my thoughts:

  • Julep Cushion Complexion in 130 Ivory:  It’s the similar concept of Clinique’s Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer, but the travel-friendly twist-up sponge applicator made application a breeze. The formula contains turmeric (naturally anti-inflammatory and brightening) and camellia seed oil (lightly moisturizing) to care for skin, and is buildable for coverage. The finish is a semi-matte effect, and helps to blur imperfections and fine lines. Traveling from England to Scotland to Paris, this makeup held up between both climates, from country-side misty rains to hot and sunny strolls around the city.
  • Julep Eyeshadow 101 in Slate Shimmer: If you don’t like most eyeshadows, I challenge you to give this a try. The creamy, twist-up stick formula applies with super smooth and shimmery color, yet is easily buildable to be as low-key or intense as you want. Plus, it’s waterproof, and did a decent job of staying put all day. The sponge blending tool on the other end of the wand was awesome to easily smudge into place on lids. Slate Shimmer is a beautiful neutral – it can be dressed up or down, which makes it super versatile for travel.
  • Julep Skip The Brush Blush Stick in Golden Guava: This is by far one of my most favorite of the Julep line. This beautiful pink + peach + rosy-gold color gives a natural flush to cheeks, with a hint of shimmer. It also doubles as an awesome lipstick, which can be super useful in packing light. Simply dot onto cheeks, and easily blend with fingers or a blush brush for a soft effect.

And now for the rest! Most of these are routine favorites of mine, but there are 2 newcomers that I’m super happy I tried on the trip:

  • butter | LONDON’s Sheer Wisdom Serum Shadow in Rose Petal: I love liquid or cream eyeshadows that also act as a creaseless base for building on other colors. This product contains a blend of anti-aging peptides, and acts either as a solid wash of color or as a neutral primer. Easy to apply with a doe-foot applicator, it can be applied with or without a brush. As we traveled between various climates and humidity levels, this performed and stayed put all day.
  • Model’s Own Grand Master Lash mascara: From the UK, this brand has had limited distribution in the states, but if you can get your hands on it, it’s awesome! After e.l.f. discontinued the version of Mineral Mascara that I loved, I’ve been on the hunt for a replacement. Grand Master Lash (love the name, btw) delivers!! The wand is a dead-ringer for the silicone brush that made the Mineral Mascara awesome, and this formula does not disappoint. It’s buildable, smear-proof, and easily washes off. But I can’t find it at Ulta anymore! Hopefully this brand is not discontinued…

To round out my travel-friendly makeup assortment, I relied on a few tried-and-true selections:

  • LORAC Alter Ego Lip Gloss in Heroine: LORAC makes my absolute favorite lip glosses. They are hydrating, super pigmented, and made from high-quality ingredients. “Heroine” is a beautiful neutral rosy-gold pink, and has a slight shimmer. It was my main lip color through the entire trip, and can look either casual or super polished. Win!
  • NYX Tinted Brow Mascara in Chocolate: As I’ve written about before, this brow mascara is my jam. Simply stated, it’s quick and easy to use, and lasts through the day – without any touch-ups needed!
  • L’Oreal Brow Stylist Definer in Brunette: I’ve also written about this automatic pencil + spoolie before, and it was one of my go-to’s for the trip. I love pairing it with the NYX Tinted Brow Mascara to achieve super-defined brows in a snap.
  • e.l.f. Brush Cleanser Wipes: These are the travel-friendly versions of my favorite daily makeup brush cleaner. For whenever I chose to use the makeup brushes that I took with me, I used these to quickly clean them up.

So, after traveling through 3 countries, which product in the travel line-up was a true game changer? To me, the Julep Cushion Complexion was the winner! Quick and easy to apply, with skin-caring ingredients to boot, this product is innovative, packs easily, and is a new favorite.

Julep Cushion Complexion

©2018 28daysbeauty

Product Reviews: Cheap Thrills #3 – mascara picks from e.l.f & NYX

The last of my three-part series on cheap makeup thrills for summer wraps up with the topic of mascara; a product that a lot of people consider the “holy grail” of a polished makeup look, but can be a bit of a challenge to find one that delivers and lasts. Especially when its the one beauty product that needs to be replaced four times a year. A cheaper formula is especially beneficial to help with this, since it’s not easy to essentially throw away a product if you feel there’s still some left to use. To help avoid eye infections, it’s important to replace your mascara every 3 months, and never add any other liquids into the tube that could contaminate or introduce bacteria. Having been a former makeup counter manager, you wouldn’t believe the stories I encountered of women adding olive oil or water into their more expensive mascara tubes to make them last longer, and then coming to the counter to return it when it “didn’t work anymore”. Really?! Really. So, in short, finding a less expensive formula that you like, and stocking up on several tubes, can lessen the amount of buying trips you make and ensure that you have healthy eyes for the year.

But what are the basics of finding a good mascara? Quite frankly, the market is flooded with choices, from $2 to upwards of $70 per tube. But what are the main aspects that I look for in selecting my choices? The first thing I look at is the brush – it makes ALL the difference in the results of the application. And second, I look for multi-tasking formulas that also care for and condition lashes. Once I make my picks on those two factors, I’ll then wear the product for a full week in order to make my final decision. Here’s two selections I made on my trip to Target at the beginning of summer: NYX The Skinny Mascara and e.l.f. Cosmetics Lash Extending Mascara, both in black shades.

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To me, these brands are very similar – professional grade makeup that retails for a fraction of the cost of other brands. But there are a few subtle differences for each formula that I want to explain further:

  1. NYX’s The Skinny Mascara is not a new product, but captures a trend that is growing – full, dark lashes that look more natural and defined. For several years, huge, gargantuan mascara brushes were all the rage in makeup marketing, but unfortunately, they were a total hassle and awkward to work with. I’ll admit that I hate using big mascara brushes. But this brush is absolutely super thin, and I LOVE it! It captures every single lash, and suddenly brings them all into focus. Giving you complete control, you can build this formula from airy and light to bold and super-defined. I have found it takes a bit of practice to work with, especially if you are used to a larger brush. But once you get the hang of it, it’s hard to go back to a larger brush. Plus, this formula stays all day long – no smearing or smudging, even in humidity. It’s water-resistant yet easy to remove at the end of the day with coconut oil or makeup wipes.
  2. e.l.f. Cosmetics used to make my favorite mascara – the Mineral-Infused Mascara that had a total kick-ass silicone brush. But, unfortunately, they discontinued that formula a while ago (why, e.l.f., why?!). So, I picked up their new Lash Extending formula, and gave it a whirl. While it doesn’t mimic my old favorite, this newer formula is a good alternative as an overall multi-tasking mascara, with both volumizing and lengthening qualities. The formula conditions lashes with vitamins B and E, delivers bold color, and stays all day – it didn’t flake or clump. The brush is not silicone, but it does give an even coat on the first couple of strokes, and the formula is buildable. While the NYX formula was easier to use in defining each lash, this formula gives more length and a thicker texture from the start. If you want a good, solid formula for every day use, this is a great choice.

Both of these choices are affordable ($6.99 for NYX and $3 for e.l.f.) and easy to get at either ULTA or Target, plus both brands are coupon-eligible at ULTA. Both brands are cruelty-free, and the e.l.f. formula is vegan too. If you are on the hunt for a good mascara this summer, and don’t want to spend too much, give these a try! You don’t have to be a makeup artist to get great results with either of these picks.

© 2018 28daysbeauty

Product Reviews: Cheap Thrills Part #2 – Power Brow combo by L’Oreal & NYX

Per the theme of the first of my three-part series for cheap beauty thrills this summer, my second blog post is dedicated to achieving awesome eyebrows for a few dollars. As I said before, “cheap thrills” is meant with the most sincere praise! I’m all for looking great with quality products, at a low impact on my wallet. But there’s so much out there to choose from – let’s take a look at a few that I’ve come to love for my brows.

I think that one of the most misunderstood facial features to play up with makeup are the eyebrows – they can be either dramatically overdrawn and too dominating, or not be balanced enough and end up getting “lost” in an overall look. But there are two simple rules to getting your brows under control, and a part of your daily look. Rule #1: always clean up the brow area first by removing stray hairs. Whether it’s with waxing, tweezing or threading, it definitely helps to have a pro give you a great shape to start with – just make sure you maintain accordingly going forward. Rule #2: use products that give you a balanced, face-framing look that naturally complements you, and doesn’t overwhelm. Great brows are truly a powerful asset, even if you don’t have much other makeup on.

During summer, I’ve found that a solid combination to achieve great brows daily starts with a brow mascara, and ends with a brow pencil. Brow mascaras work two-fold: they lock down and tame unruly brow hairs, while adding color to even out and darken the brow.

I love NYX’s Tinted Brow Mascara since it reminds me a bit of Glossier’s Boy Brow, with a slightly larger brush. Begin with the thicker part of your brow (above the inner corner of your eye), and brush out to the end by following the brow’s natural arch. This formula does not flake, and darkens while blending in naturally. During a hot and humid day, a brow mascara definitely holds up better than powder or wax formulas. I use the shade Chocolate, which is a perfect golden brown that complements my auburn hair.

Next, I fill in and define where needed with a brow pencil – especially with a spoolie brush on the end. L’Oreal’s Brow Stylist Shape & Fill pencil is awesome for defining clean lines, filling gaps to give a fuller appearance, and is easily applied as a twist-up pencil. The spoolie is essential for blending the brow mascara and pencil products together, to create a natural effect. Plus, I love to use this spoolie to finish shaping brow hair into place, without adding more color. The shade below is 115 Brunette, and it blends well with the Chocolate shade from NYX. This formula is very long wearing, and does not smear – it’s held up during my regular sailing regattas, and attending an outside wedding this summer.

I also keep a spare L’Oreal Brow Stylist pencil in my gym bag makeup kit, as there’s no need for a pencil sharpener. It’s a quick and easy way to give color and control, especially if you are packing light for the gym or travel.

At ULTA and Target, it’s under $20 total for these two products together! Plus, both of these brands are coupon-eligible at ULTA, and often have BOGO deals – I’ve learned to stock up and have spares handy when needed. If you are in need of changing up your products, or are interested in playing with your brow look a bit more, both of these are easy to use and quality products to get you moving in the right direction without having to spend a lot.

© 2018 28daysbeauty

Beauty Topic: Concealers – why I use 2 full-coverage formulas at the same time

Changing your makeup based on the seasons is a great habit to get in to, as it allows your skin to look more natural based on the climate. Now that summer is over, I can see the effect the sun has had on my skin and what I need to adjust in my daily makeup routine to cover more effectively. No matter how much sunscreen I use, there always seems to be a bit of discoloration on my skin after the sailing season is over. There’s a ton of emphasis from the beauty world put on foundation, and selecting the right one for your skin type and desired finish. This is for good reason; foundation creates your base canvas for any look. But what about the beauty concerns that foundation cannot correct on it’s own? Dark circles or spots. Acne scars or breakouts. Red patches or blotchiness? Well, meet your new best friend to pinpoint and attack these challenges – the concealer. Using the right formulas, and the right color combinations, can be game-changing even for your everyday looks. However, concealer is often an overlooked and misunderstood product – many people are confused on how to incorporate concealer into their daily routine (does it go on top of, or underneath, my foundation?) and why not all concealers are created equal (wand, pot, tubes, etc). Like red lipstick or black liquid eyeliner, the words “full-coverage” can strike fear into those trying to select a concealer. They fear that it will look cakey, or be difficult to blend in. But in these modern times of beauty innovation, there’s a great selection to choose from. Let’s chat about 2 concealers that are full coverage, and that I’ve been using daily for the past couple of months to achieve the look I want.

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Let’s start with LORAC’s POREfection Concealer – I’m shade PC1 (pictured above). This concealer is oil-free, paraben-free, and fragrance-free, so it’s virtually perfect for any hyper-reactive sensitive skin. Being oil-free, this is incredibly long-lasting and helps to create a soft satin finish on the skin all day. It also contains a blend of antioxidants to help brighten and care for skin, yet works to fully cover uneven tone, dark circles and spots. I use this within my cheek area, as I have uneven skin tone and dark spots, and it completely covers them. Caution: you only need a teeny bit to cover your concerns – I start with a small dot on the back of my hand, and apply with my fingers. This helps spread the formula, as I’ll then blend in with foundation brush. But we’ll talk about application tips in a minute. I really like the tube packaging, as you can control the amount of concealer being dispensed, and it keeps the rest of the product hygienic.

My next choice is NYX’s Full Coverage concealer in yellow (pictured below). What?? Yellow? Yes. As a person who suffers from red spots almost everyday, yellow concealer is a MUST in my makeup bag. Yellow counteracts redness, and also doubles as a brightening effect – I use this for any red spots and blemishes, as well as my eyelids and under-eye area to highlight and brighten up skin tone. The jar packaging is great, as you can pick up just the amount of product you want on a concealer brush. I clean my brushes everyday, so this keeps the product free from bacteria. This formula is creamy, but does contain microcrystalline wax and paraffin to give it more of a paste consistency. The yellow shade is meant for spot-application, so the paste consistency helps for staying power and building coverage as you want. There are fantastic You-Tube videos out there about color correction, which dive much deeper into that topic and all of the related shades (such as green, lavender and orange). For now, I’ll just focus on yellow concealer and why I love using it in my normal routine.

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Now that you know what I use, let’s talk about why I use them based on my needs. When starting out with my makeup for the day, here’s my routine:

  • Apply liquid foundation first with my foundation brush, and focus just on the larger areas of my face: forehead, nose, cheeks and chin. I blend down into the neckline, and apply just enough to even my skin tone out. Note – I can still see areas needing some correction at this initial stage.
  • Using a flat concealer brush, I’ll pick up a bit of NYX’s yellow concealer from the jar and dot under my eyes, over my eyelids, and around the edges of my nose. I’ll blend in with the concealer brush and use my skin’s warmth to spread evenly. This instantly brightens dark areas, conceals any redness, and highlights while blending into the edges of my foundation. I also use a bit under the arch in my brow bone to give the illusion of height and create definition. This is also a very concentrated formula, so a little bit goes a long way.
  • Next, I’ll squeeze a small dot of my LORAC POREfection concealer on the back of my left hand, and use my right-hand ring finger to gently apply dots of this concealer to wider areas of concern (like my cheeks) that have uneven skin tone. I’ll blend this in with my foundation brush.
  • Lastly, I’ll use my concealer brush to tackle any remaining red spots with a bit of the NYX yellow concealer, blending in with the foundation underneath.

Even though this sounds like a lot of work, it takes me only a few minutes to complete. I do recommend practicing to get a method of blending and combination of formulas that works best for you. A full-coverage foundation does its job in evening out the skin tone, but it’s really the task of good concealers to camouflage any imperfections. Yellow can seem intimidating, but I think you’ll be surprised how easy it is to work into your routine once you get the hang of it – it brightens skin immediately, and highlights without adding shimmer. The eye area can especially benefit from the brightening effect of a yellow concealer, as it counteracts dark circles and calms down any redness on eyelids. You can also blend concealers to get just the right shade you are looking for – I’ve known of plenty of makeup artists that have several concealer shades, and use the back of their hand as a blending tray – this uses the warmth of the skin to mix different formulas easily. They can then use the concealer shades to contour, highlight or sculpt the face as they want. Wand concealers can be tricky to use, as I find that it’s harder to control the amount they dispense. By putting a used wand back into the product it can breed bacteria, which may also cause breakouts.

In my years of talking about beauty, there is one concern that lighter-skinned or redheaded people are often frustrated with: freckles. And especially how full-coverage foundations and concealers may look a bit “fake” when trying to cover up a full-face of them. If you want your freckles to still show, I recommend using tinted moisturizers instead of foundation, as full-coverage formulas can be very noticeable in trying to “hide” freckles if not applied correctly. I do still recommend using a full-coverage concealer for targeted areas after a tinted moisturizer – you can control opacity and coverage with adding a bit of moisturizer as needed to your concealer, and then blending just the imperfections away properly so that they do not interfere with freckles. A dusting of powder is a great way to set a tinted moisturizer and also give a softening effect for the overall finish. The biggest technique for people with freckles is to master is blending down the neck, as it looks more natural overall with application. If you are trying to combat freckles or uneven skin tone overall, then I do suggest looking at skincare products like First Aid Beauty’s Facial Radiance Pads or similar glycolic / AHA serums that helps to fade discoloration over time.

A final benefit of these full-coverage formulas is that these are long-lasting formulas, and you get your money’s worth. And they are easy additions that you can experiment with – sometimes it’s the little changes that you make that have a big impact on results.

© 2017 28daysbeauty