Winter Haircare and Testing MAC Makeup

After almost a year of having lighter [dare I say blonde at times, eep!] hair, I've quite literally gone back to my roots and had it brought back to a deep chocolate brown.  Recently, my hair has been so dry and damaged and not for a lack of taking care of it! I'm still not sure why it's been so unhappy, but I thought going back to my natural color was my best bet.  As you can see from the photos, I've still got variation in color, but my amazing hair stylist Andrew added a deeper brown back to my hair, basically creating lowlights. I like to think of it as the reverse of highlighting? Not entirely sure that's what this is, but I don't claim to be a hair expert! He then placed a toner all over my hair to soften the remaining lighter bits. After a couple inches were chopped off, my hair now feels and looks SO healthy!  

As a precaution, I'm also swapping back to my go to shampoo and conditioner from the Pureology Hydrate collection. Although the other haircare products I was using were really nice quality, my hair just didn't seem happy with them anymore.  I've heard occasionally switching out your shampoo and conditioner is actually good for your hair, so it can't hurt to try!  I'm also starting to incorporate a deep conditioning treatment each week.  The one I'm currently testing is a sample of Briogeo's Don't Despair Repair Mask.  I started using it before I went back to darker hair, and I did notice a bit of a difference then, so I imagine it'll only help protect my hair now that it's in a healthier state.

Now a transition from hair to makeup! You may not know this, but I'm a sucker for sales and discount codes, and I just couldn't help myself when MAC had 20% off everything a few weeks back! I picked up Christmas gifts for a few people, but naturally I had to try out a few things for myself! I've been meaning to pick up MAC's Fix+ spray, since I've heard it does wonders for intensifying any metallic or shimmery eyeshadows.  All you need to do is spray a bit of it on your brush and dip it into the shadow.  I still can't believe how much it transformed my tried and true Urban Decay Naked Palette.  The colors on my lids are Half Baked [a bright gold], Smog [copper] with Buck [taupe brown] in the transition.

I also picked up a great new mascara with a skinny wand that's incredible for my tiny lashes [and would work well for anyone's lower lashes!].  I tried out a new eyeliner in the color Raisinette [a deep plum] and oh, just a few lipsticks [!!!]. My favorite has to be Mehr, which is a perfect everyday color for me. 

I wanted to experiment with how the MAC matte lipstick paired with my go-to lipsticks, all of which are from NARS. I tend to layer lipsticks on top of each other to create different shades, and the combination of Mehr with NARS Heat Wave is a new favorite of mine! 

For the rest of my face, I used several products I'm running out of. I'm all about decluttering and clearing out at this time of year, and that includes a clear out of my makeup! As a base I used It Cosmetics CC cream and under eye concealer, both in medium.  I set them with the nearly decimated Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette. I contoured with my Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in medium [also hitting pan on this guy!]. My blush is the subtle Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure. On my brows I went with Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo in Ebony. I I purchased this for my mom ages ago, but she decided to stick to brow pencils. It's definitely on the darker side than my usual eyebrow powder, but since my hair is quite dark now, and fuller brows seem to be a thing at the moment, I can go back to using this shade.

The final flourish on my face is the Tom Ford Eye Defining Pencil Pen [yes, it was stupid expensive, but I've had it for four months, it's the only one I use, I use it almost everyday, it lasts on my eyes all day and night. It's perfection.  For me, it's paid for itself! Justified!] 

After this holiday season, I'm going on a ban from purchasing any makeup for a while. I have tons of samples to work my way through [loves me some samples!]. Needless to say, I've picked up a shedload of new products this season, and I can't see myself needing anything else until the spring! [when the next round of sales starts, ahh!].  

Addendum: In writing this post, I realized I had a few things to return to Sephora, and some I no longer had receipts for, so I did end up grabbing a couple new bits [one travel makeup palette and a skincare set] with the merchandise credit I received. I believe these items will be popping up in my upcoming travel makeup post [loads more talk on where I'm traveling to soon!]. 

Fall Sephora Haul & Makeup Review

While writing this, I'm wrapped up in an oversized sweater, with an even more oversized sweater on top of that. I'm wearing a wooly scarf and fuzzy slippers. I'd probably have a blanket on my lap if my cats and dogs weren't holding all of them hostage.  Now that I'm at nearly optimal levels of cozy, I suppose I can start this chat about makeup! Every year, Sephora [my guilty pleasure of choice] gives their frequent shoppers a sizable discount, timed perfectly before the holidays.  It's at this time I like to stock up on items I'm running low on or try my hand at new products. After I've tested something out a few times, if it doesn't really wow me or seems unnecessary, I have no issue returning it.  I have more makeup perhaps than the average person, but I'm by no means a hoarder.  If I'm going to keep something, I want to make sure I will get every penny's worth and use every ounce up!  

First, let me go over the new items I was testing for this look. I needed to pick up a new foundation, since my current favorite is two to three shades too dark for me.  I went with Josie Maran's Vibrancy foundation in the color Awakened.  This one was an instant keeper.  After my first time using it, I was so impressed with how little product I needed to cover my whole face. One pump [or even a bit less] is all I need. The finish has such a lovely glow to it, and makes my skin truly look vibrant and alive. I'm not a fan of heavy coverage, since I like my freckles to show a bit, and this foundation strikes just the right balance between coverage and natural skin. It seems to work best when applied with a damp Beauty Blender, and doesn't take much time to get an even finish.  I can't recommend it enough!

I also tested out Kat Von D's Lock It Concealer, but unfortunately, I just didn't find it brightened up my under eye area enough. The consistency was nice and does feel full coverage, but I still find the IT Cosmetics under eye concealer to be the best in color and coverage for me. I might have exchanged the Kat Von D for a lighter shade to see if that would work better, but I'd already overspent in a BIG way at Sephora, and knew I could get by with my current concealers for a bit longer.  The same goes for the bronzer I tried, which was an insane splurge.  I'd never tried Tom Ford makeup products before, and the packaging is incredible and feels so luxurious, I had to at least test it out.  The bronzer color actually worked quite nicely as a contour shade for me, but when I compared it to the other contour shades I use, I really saw no difference. Again, contouring isn't something I need to have multiples of, so back the bronzer went. To set my face, I picked up the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light.  I was given the Ambient Lighting Palette as a gift over a year ago, and basically used the three colors in that swirled around as a setting powder.  I've finally decimated that palette, and knew the full size would last me quite a while.  I went with a yellow tinted shade since I've heard that can combat redness. I'm not entirely sure I can tell any difference there,  but any of the ambient powders seem to set the face without feeling too powdery or drying.  A pricey but long time investment I highly recommend!

For lips, I'd heard rave reviews about the Nars Velvet Lip Glides.  I tried the color Playpen, a light nude shade.  The color is gorgeous, and photographed beautifully, but on me, it just didn't wear well.  I noticed after an hour or two, the product would start to break up on my lips and create lines.  It didn't feel dry, but it did manage to make my lips look dry, which was a deal breaker. I'm still sticking to my tried and true Nars lipsticks, and if I can find this shade in lipstick form, I'd be all over it! On my eyes I tested Tarte's Tarteist Mascara, again based on reviews.  Mascara is tricky, because everyone has different lashes, and mine are particularly troublesome.  I'm the Goldilocks of mascara! I need a mascara to really hold a curl [since mine are stick straight], lengthen [my lashes are short], and not be too wet of a formula [otherwise I end up with goops of mascara all over my top and bottom lashes!]. This mascara wasn't bad, but it wasn't as good as others I've tried.  It didn't do much for curling my lashes, though it did help with the length.  The formula was a bit too wet for me, and the brush irritates my eyes a bit. Another one bites the dust!

That being said, there's one area my frugality falters.  I LOVE eyeshadow palettes.  Being someone who adores color and art [and dabbles in both for a living], opening up an eyeshadow palette feels like playtime!  I don't have many excuses to do dramatic makeup looks, and my personal style is fairly neutral, but I do like to have fun with all the gorgeous colors eyeshadows come in. Because I've been amassing a bit of a palette collection, colors start to overlap and despite some of the more recent launches being absolutely stunning, I just don't need them all. But when the BIG sale came along, I just had to at least give a couple new palettes a try and see how they fared. I'd never owned any eyeshadows from Anastasia Beverly Hills, but her palettes consistently get rave reviews.  I ended up picking up two to test out.  Today I'll discuss the Modern Renaissance palette, why I loved it, but why I chose to return it [shocking I know!]. 

For starters, the colors in it are simply beautiful.  I love warm toned shadows, and tend to use them in almost every look I do.  The quality of the shadows is fantastic and buttery, lasting on my eyes all day. My only real reason for returning it was simple.  For nearly every shade in this palette, I was able to find dupes in other palettes I owned.  Last Christmas I treated myself to the Lorac Mega Pro 3 palette [review here!] and nearly all of the mattes from this palette can be found in the Lorac one, and my Viseart Matt Neutrals palette, with the exception of deep pink Love Letter, which I honestly wouldn't use often anyway. I also managed to find dupes for the shimmer shades in my other palettes. If you don't have the Lorac Mega 3 like I do, and you love warm toned shades, then I would 100% recommend in investing in the Modern Renaissance palette.  I will talk about the palette I did decided to keep in a future post, and this one I dare say takes the cake for being my #1 favorite palette of all time [big statement, I know!]. 

I love warm, neutral, not over the top looks like this. I feel like I can wear this all day in a big cozy sweater without feeling overdone, and when I'm ready to go out at night, I just have to pop on a deeper lipstick [maybe one to match both my sweater AND nails?!], a nice top, a pair of boots and I'm good to go.