Recent Beauty Purchases – Hits and Misses

Beauty reviews - cosmetics for a woman over 40 - Wardrobe OxygenEvery January, I get uber melancholy. I feel fat, I feel old, I feel tired, I feel stuck and stagant. There’s something wrong with me, I need CHANGE! A tattoo! A haircut! Skydiving! A trip to a different country! But it’s Emerson’s birthday, then my mom’s birthday, then my sister’s. And this January had work changes – my department became part of a different division, moved to a different location, and had a very high-pressure project to complete.

Then my birthday happens on the 28th of the month and I realize it’s not something wrong with me, it’s just me getting older and putting too much pressure on myself to accomplish something that would look really impressive on paper. When I think about it, I feel pretty damn good about my station in life. I’m healthy, I’m happy, I’m surrounded by love, I have a good job, I have this wonderful blog… tons of blessings in life.

All I need is some new makeup!

So since I turned 30 and had these “woe is me my life sucks” feelings as soon as the New Year begins, I have battled it with a makeup splurge. When I turned 30, I bought my first compact of NARS Orgasm blush and a brush that wasn’t from Target. Since then, I have used my birthday as a time to try something new and exciting in beauty. Through the year, I will budget for makeup, buy drugstore options, make do with what is in my dressing table before purchasing but for my birthday I buy that It Product that every vlogger claims is a gamechanger, the mascara that costs more than dinner, the primer that will make my pores disappear.

Shop The Items Mentioned in this Post:

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal

While I have my beloved Mary-Lou Manzier from theBalm, I was looking for a highlighter that would be a liquid. Something I could put on under my foundation for very subtle dewy-ness, blend with foundation or tinted moisturizer, and have more creative control. I bought something from NYX, something from Revlon, and both made me look greasy so I decided to go high-end. This product from Becca gives me exactly what I was looking for.

While I have fair skin, I found the colors Pearl and Moonstone to be too light and obvious for daytime. I’ve been playing with the product and there’s a lot of ways to wear it but I find the most success for everyday is to put it on after my foundation but before my blush. I squeeze the absolute smallest amount on the top of my hand and apply with a foundation brush to my cheek bones and blend. I then use my ring finger and dab a small amount on my brow bones and inner corners of my eyes, the cupid’s bow of my mouth, and then if there’s anything left I put it up at my hairline. It doesn’t make me look glittery or shimmery, just dewy like I have happy hydrated skin. It looks more natural than my pressed highlighter (less shimmery) but it doesn’t make me look sweaty or greasy. Applying blush over it helps blend it and also diffuse it; putting it under my foundation often blended it too much so it hardly showed. You really need very very little, one squeeze is often too much so I expect this bottle to last an extremely long time. Price is painful (though I linked to Amazon where it's far cheaper than Sephora or Ulta), but results are exactly what I wanted. Hit.

Clinique Line Smoothing Concealer in Moderately Fair

I watched a YouTube video that recommended this concealer for those over 40 because it blended so nicely and didn’t emphasize fine lines. The video (can’t find it now!) used the Sigma brush I mention below and it blended so beautifully I was mesmerized and immediately bought the pair.

And it does blend beautifully, especially with the brush. However, this is not a product to hide a pimple or a dark spot. It’s a liquid, and it is sheer. I am using it under my eyes and in the inner corners to lighten the dark circles and reduce the appearance of the bags and for that, it’s brilliant and doesn’t look like I used concealer. It stays all day, it doesn’t irritate, and it’s a natural finish. Hit!

Sigma F64 Soft Blend Concealer Brush

I have never used a brush like this for concealer. It’s quite large and fluffy, I’ve always used a flatter and smaller brush for concealer, but then I have always used a cream or stick concealer. This brush made me feel like a YouTube beauty vlogger and I was floored that in my little makeup mirror I saw myself buff away dark circles and minimize the bags under my eyes.

If there’s one beauty product I splurge on, it’s brushes. I’ve tried all the cheaper brands that are supposedly as good as department store brands and they rarely are worth their cheap price. I have brushes from MAC and Trish McEvoy that are almost two decades old and still in excellent quality – you can only tell their age from the style of the handle. Brushes are something you don’t have to keep replacing if you treat them well, so it makes sense to buy the best you can afford the first go-round. This brush is quality. The shape, the feel, the weight, the blendability… it’s my first time buying a Sigma brush but it likely won’t be my last. Hit!

NARS Blush in Sex Appeal

I’ve been using NARS Orgasm for over a decade and while it’s versatile and awesome… I find with age it has become too strong a color and too shimmery. A reader told me once her favorite is Sex Appeal, it’s a softer, less sparkly Orgasm. I prefer a peachy tone to my blush so decided to give it a try.

This is daytime blush. It gives a very subtle flush, which is something I didn’t desire at 30 but I do find far more flattering at 41. It looks extremely natural, as though I just woke up with this lovely subtle flush. Paired with the Becca highlighter, my skin is still 41, but it looks healthy and happy at this age. And speaking of brushes, my favorite for a flush of blush is the Bobbi Brown blush brush. Over the years I have accumulated a ton of blush, bronzer, and face brushes and I think the Bobbi Brown blush brush is the softest, best quality, and best shape to give the right amount of color for my face shape. Another hit!

L’Oreal Volumninous Miss Manga Rock Mascara

I needed a new mascara, and I bought this thinking it was the one Phyllis reviewed and liked. Nope, different drugstore mascara in a yellow and black tube. But it seems to be the same concept – big thick spiky lashes but online reviews that say it actually works well for normal lashes that are just long and thick looking.

The plus: You really can get thick, lush, long looking lashes that don’t have any hint of spider or Twiggy to them. Wipe the wand with a Kleenex the first couple of times, wiggle through the lashes while applying, and the effect is awesome. The mascara stays in place all day, even if you sweat or cry or rub your eyes.

The minus: This mascara doesn’t want to come off. Coconut oil, Neutrogena wipes, old-school oily makeup remover, a steamy shower, even cold cream and you THINK it’s all off, and then you wake up with crunchy sticky eyes and you washy again and think it’s all off and then you put in your contacts and it feels like there’s sand in your eyes and you take out your contact and it’s coated in little black flecks. For me, the negatives outweigh the positive. Miss.

NARS Lipstick in Tolede

I’m always on the hunt for a lipstick that is my lip color but a bit more intense. Everything is always too orange, too purple, too pink, too something. I did love Laura Mercier’s Sparkling Pink but it’s discontinued (and Sarah I know you were going to get me one in the UK, I have my pile of magazines for you I haven’t forgotten!) and I wanted something a hair darker. When I was in New York this summer my friend and beauty guru Sarah recommended Bite’s Lipstick in Shiraz and it was the closest I had found to what I wanted (you can see it in this post, with NARS gloss in Viva over it), but still a bit too dark and too cool. I've liked NARS lipsticks, I have Dolce Vita and it's a bit too light so I went with Tolede, thinking if my blush is warm my lips should be too.

And Tolede is pretty fantastic. It’s semi-matte, so it doesn’t look dry and cakey but it stays on really well. And the warmer color isn’t orangey or weird, it’s like my lips. In fact it’s a bit too much like my lips and I don’t feel “done.” I usually wear it with my ‘Viva’ gloss over it so it looks more purposeful, and the formula plays nice with gloss and stays in place. But I need something a hair darker and this tone or slightly cooler. Still looking… so this isn’t a miss but it’s not the biggest hit.

Bobbi Brown Creamy Lipcolor in Rose Petal

This is also a nice “my lips but better” color but it’s a bit more shimmery than I usually like. I don’t mind a gloss, but when it has shimmer and it’s a soft pink, the look can be uber dated. I feel this is so pink and shiny I need to be careful when I wear it. It’s also a heavy formula; when I put it on I can feel the lipstick, my lips feel heavy, sticky, and I feel more dried out after wearing it. Though I do wear this sometimes I’d have to say it’s a miss.

Lancôme L’Absolu Rouge Definition Lipstick in Le Carmin

I didn’t buy this one. Lancôme was kind enough to send me this amazing box of products at the end of October and this lipstick was in there. I’m always on the hunt for a new red, and it was the first item from the box I tried. It hasn’t left my makeup bag since. This is the red I am wearing in the “after” shots for my Clairol post and I’ve worn it several other times. Each time I wear it someone asks what lipstick it is. It’s a pretty perfect classic red with a pretty perfect finish that isn’t too matte, too glossy, too anything.

As for the actual product, this is what an expensive lipstick should feel like. It’s velvety, doesn’t dry my lips, doesn’t feel like I’m wearing lipstick. It’s not long-wearing, but it fades nicely and evenly so I don’t end up with a red line around my lips. It smells like lipstick, which I like; it adds to the luxury experience. The case is divine; it’s pretty and it has a magnet built in so the cap snaps on and stays on no matter what.

Have you purchased any recent cosmetics worthy of a mention (or a warning)?

36 Comments

  1. Lizzy
    February 22, 2016 / 9:20 pm

    Have you tried hot water to remove the mascara? I haven’t tried this specific one but often when neither an oily makeup remover nor a foamy one works, heat is the secret.
    (This is because an oily one can remove waterproof=oil based mascara, the foamy one can remove water based mascara, and heat can remove polymere based mascara (sometimes called tube mascara))

  2. crtfly
    February 19, 2016 / 7:29 pm

    The woman in the make-up tutorial is so beautiful without makeup. The make-up takes her from beautiful to extremely glamorous.

    I would like to see a make-up tutorial that starts with a face with all kinds of issues: wrinkles, age spots, sagging neck, deep circles under the eyes, thin lips. Can make-up offer some improvement to a woman like this or is plastic surgery the only hope of looking better?

    Before y’all start saying ewwww! realize that woman would like to look her best too.

    Chris

  3. Ann Davies-Dakin
    February 19, 2016 / 2:51 pm

    Nars lipstick in Gypsy is one of my favorites – a little darker than my natural color and slightly glossy/satin (but not glittery).

  4. February 18, 2016 / 8:52 pm

    A few recent favorites that have already been mentioned: the Becca Backlight Priming Filter is GOOD. I also have the Hourglass Ambient Powders, which I’ve been using a lot, particularly to set my concealer under my eyes – there’s one with a yellowish tint that works well for that. On the not quite as pricey front, I was pleasantly surprised by the Loreal La Nude Palette 1 – some mattes, and the shimmers are not so over the top that I can’t wear them at age 41. (I never bought any of the Urban Decay Naked palettes because of the super shimmer in so many of the shades….but the original Naked Basics palette is fantastic.) I also really like the Loreal Le Matte lip crayon I bought – it’s a very flattering red on me. My most recent drugstore purchase that I’ve been really happy with is the Maybelline Master Precise Skinny Gel Pencil. It allows me to put a really thin line of liner right next to my upper lashes.

  5. Nihongo Dame Desu
    February 18, 2016 / 5:28 pm

    If you are in the market for any more makeup brushes, I can’t say enough great things about the brushes I have that I purchased from various art stores over the years. I am not a painter, so I have no idea what kind of brushes they are (oils, watercolor, a mix?). I have various brands and all of them wear and wash amazingly well. At one time, I found a chart somewhere on the internet (that really narrows it down, huh?) that gave specific recommendations for “use alikes”. “If you like Mac brush 123, the dup would be X art brush”–that sort of thing. That’s what got me started, but then I just went to a couple craft and art stores and picked shapes I thought I’d use. Most stores seemed to have 2-4 levels of brushes, and I didn’t buy the cheapest, but they were still a fraction of what regular makeup brushes cost, and they are made to be washed regularly so the quality is wonderful.

  6. Kathryn Braun Fenner
    February 18, 2016 / 2:55 pm

    Next birthday (I replace my makeup in December, because I can nab some of the Christmas specials), try the Hourglass Ambient Lighting powders–I got the palette from Sephora, and use as highlighter, setting powder, blush and bronzer–no glitter at all–in fact, barely perceptible in sunlight with a magnifying mirror, but the overall effect is excellent.

  7. Kathryn Braun Fenner
    February 18, 2016 / 2:44 pm

    I just ordered the Sigma brush. You have the best recommendations!
    I do like the premium Sonia Kashuk brushes as much as my Bobbi Brown and Trish McEvoy brushes, for the most part. I also suggest you try the Sonia Kashuk Lip Sheer lipsticks–in long, square tubes. The red one may be too pink for your taste, but the berry is MLBB on me, and the Pink Lust is a summer MLBB. The color wears off evenly and the moisture lasts even longer–not super longwearing, of course, but so easy to reapply.

    • February 18, 2016 / 5:03 pm

      I think I only have one Sonia Kashuk brush. To be honest I hardly ever go in Target any more so the brand isn’t always on my radar. I’ll have to make a visit!

      • Kathryn Braun Fenner
        February 18, 2016 / 8:45 pm

        I don’t know if they even make the base line any more–the ones with the black handles are great. The only one I’m not fond of is the angled blush one–sheds all the time. I just got one that is domed, soft and dense–a dupe for the Hourglass brush…
        But Target needs to up its game to make it fun again. I miss Michael Graves, Thomas O’Brien. The fashion collaborations stuff I got tired of–so cheaply made, but the Merona tees that are all cotton, baby rib, are an amazing deal! (They had them this winter, but the spring short-sleeves are cotton-modal, so not as amazing: a bit clingy.)

  8. Patricia
    February 18, 2016 / 1:21 pm

    What I like about trying new cosmetics is you can return them if they don’t work out. Just keep the receipt, give the product a try and trot it back if you look like Bozina, the makeup clown. It’s taken the fear out of trying new drugstore and dept store products. I do ask before purchasing but so far, the answer’s always been yes.

    • February 18, 2016 / 5:04 pm

      I do this with Sephora and Nordstrom, but I never do with drugstores except once with a foundation that seemed to have gone bad. It’s a good point, brands want you to be happy with what you buy.

      • patricia
        February 18, 2016 / 8:12 pm

        I especially use this to try out new lipstick colors. I can try something a little daring for me without fear.

  9. February 18, 2016 / 12:26 pm

    Yes! I also changed up my hair and I got a new office (and location/building) this month which has also revived me!

  10. jennifer
    February 18, 2016 / 12:20 pm

    Would you consider doing, or linking to, a tutorial about how to achieve such great effects with a concealer brush? I have a cream concealer that I tap on with my fingers, and never thought that a brush would make a difference at all. I’m 45, and lately battling sleeplessness and allergies — I need all the help I can get!!! (Also, while you may be feeling blah, the blog posts so far this year are better than ever.)

      • jennifer
        February 18, 2016 / 12:30 pm

        Thanks!

      • Kathryn Braun Fenner
        February 18, 2016 / 2:52 pm

        Shiny shadow on mature lids? Nope. The UD Minor Sin primer is fine, applied thinly, to give a bit of dimension and blur, but I top it with matte Tarte shadow. Also, Smashbox Always Sharp liners in 3D, for a touch of light.

  11. Michele S
    February 18, 2016 / 11:28 am

    Oh, also I really like the Becca Backlight Priming Filter, subtle glow even under foundation (I use NARS tinted moisturizer).

  12. Michele S
    February 18, 2016 / 11:22 am

    I also have NARS Tolede and I like it but I agree that’s it is almost too natural looking. You should try NARS Pigalle. On me, it’s a shade darker than my lips and looks more done than Tolede but I can swipe it on without a mirror. It’s a very flattering color and works great for every day. Even though it’s a semi-matte, it doesn’t dry out my lips and it stays on great. I have fair skin too and wear this with peachy blushes.

  13. Heather
    February 18, 2016 / 11:11 am

    I just bought Tarte’s BB primer and wear it solo. It’s lovely. Just enough coverage to even out my skin tone, floats over fine lines and is actually pale enough for me, and it has spf. I’m on a mission to find a great navy mascara (black is too dark on me) but otherwise I’m on a makeup-buying fast until I use up some of the products I have.. (I’ll never need to buy shimmery nude eyeshadow, ugly matte beige lipstick, or black eyeliner again thanks to my year with Ipsy before I finally cancelled)

    • February 18, 2016 / 12:28 pm

      LOL I have heard that about Ipsy very often. A friend admitted she stuck with it so long because she liked the bags they came in more than the products!

    • Kathryn Braun Fenner
      February 18, 2016 / 2:45 pm

      Jezebel used to have Beauty Box reviews, and it seemed as if they all came with those basics, or weird colors I’d not wear now–but would have loved when I was a teenager.

      • February 18, 2016 / 5:03 pm

        I got my sister Birchbox for Christmas, but my sister is really adventurous with her makeup and wouldn’t think twice of wearing a weird color on her eye or lip and likes to try out new fragrances. I got wild and crazy and when I used up most of my NAKED eye palette I switched to the NAKED 2 one. So daring! 🙂

        • heather
          February 18, 2016 / 5:42 pm

          I did both ipsy and Birchbox, realized at $10 a month I could save up for something higher end I’d actually wear. Nothing wrong with shimmery nudes and beige lipstick, if you’re into that, but I don’t need to keep getting the same stuff every month. I like actual colors, and instead I got 6 nude lipsticks that looked like I smeared concealer all over my lips. Ipsy in particular seemed to delight in sending me repeats of whatever I rated poorly.

        • Kathryn Braun Fenner
          February 18, 2016 / 8:41 pm

          Shocking!

          • Mary
            February 18, 2016 / 9:38 pm

            I’ve actually found that, over time, my ipsy bags have gotten a lot better. Better selection of brands/products, and more high end products, and as I rate things and tinker with my survey, I get better colors. I do still end up swapping some stuff, but more because sometimes I just can’t keep up with everything. I still like trying new stuff, and I like that, for certain things that I’m not brand sensitive about, I basically never have to think about buying them again.

  14. Elizabeth Fitzsimmons
    February 18, 2016 / 10:54 am

    Give the Laura Mercier radiance primer a try. I love the effect and it a tiny bit goes a long way so it is worth the price.

  15. Ahuva Hazan-Fuchs
    February 18, 2016 / 9:24 am

    I tried the L’oreal Revitalift line, following your review, and didn’t like it. I’ve been using the laser renew exfoliating liquid at night, and it just seems to make my pores more evident. I’ve been using the daily moisturizer from this line, and didn’t think it’s anything special. These were splurges for me 🙂

    • February 18, 2016 / 12:27 pm

      I am so sorry you didn’t like the line! I am still using the day moisturizer and the eye cream, though when the others ran out I went with different products because while I did like them, they didn’t WOW me. And I received a different SPF day moisturizer from a different brand and will be trying when my Revitalift runs out.

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