Brand Spotlight: Lush

OK, so I’m sure we’ve all heard of the beauty brand, Lush. I mean … I’m sure I’m not the only person who has seen those cool videos on my Instagram Explore page of their amazing products (I have no life). Anyways, I’ve known of this brand for awhile now, and I’ve tried some products by them in the past, but it has been awhile since I took a trip to their store.

While in NYC this past weekend, I decided to pop into the store to see what they had. Literally so many products — from face masks, to foot creams, Lush has thought of every product, not to mention they’re all 100% vegetarian. My roommate has the Roots Hair Treatment from Lush — I tried it and it’s safe to say I fell in love. This mint-scented hair mask promotes hair growth and volume and feels SO refreshing on your scalp. Even though I love this hair mask, I was on the hunt for something new.

Hot Oil Hair Treatment

These immediately caught my eye when I saw them. I am all for pampering myself and having spa nights, so when I saw “hot oil treatment” I was instantly intrigued. The mask comes as a small block of solid oil. When you want to use the treatment, you boil several quarts of water in a pot and add the treatment (Note: be sure to add the water slowly. I added mine too fast, and the consistency ended up being more watery than intended … but hey you live and you learn!). Eventually, the mask will thicken and viola! You are all set for spa night. The treatment can also be used more than once, as there was a good amount of product left after my first use.

I chose the “Kinky” hot oil treatment considering my natural hair texture: wavy and frizzy. This mask is great for softening, hydrating and eliminating frizz, which is perfect for my unruly hair. The treatment is scented with ylang ylang and rosewood, so my hair is also left smelling like a dream. I kept this product in for several hours. When it comes to any type of mask or treatment, I like to keep them on for as long as possible to soak up all the benefits. This treatment is great if you plan to stay at home all day, or if you want to apply it before you go to sleep and rise when you wake up in the morning. Bottom line: I will definitely be purchasing hair treatments from Lush again.

Cup O’ Coffee

When I saw this face and body mask on the shelf, I picked it up and put it in my basket. I had to buy it. I have tried coffee body scrubs in the past and I seriously fell in love. First of all, I am a self proclaimed coffee addict, so the smell was enough to hook me from the start. Besides that fact, coffee grounds are great for exfoliating and revealing soft, radiant skin. Lately, my pores have been more clogged than usual on my face, and my body has been significantly more dry because of the weather. I like to dampen my hands and apply the scrub all over before I get in the shower. This way, the scrub won’t wash off immediately and the product has a chance to soak into the skin. This product was meant for me, as it is the perfect remedy for rough winter skin.

Mastering French Beauty

If there’s one thing we can applaud Parisian women for, it is definitely their effortless sense of style and natural, fresh-faced beauty.

These days, I maintain a more simple beauty routine compared to previous years, and focus more on perfecting my skincare regimen. French beauty in particular focuses more on not covering up your face, but rather accentuating your best features. By observation, I have noticed that maintaining a clean, natural face with bold lashes and a darker lip is the simplest and most accurate representation of the modern French girl. For this post, I am going explain my look inspired by the modern Parisian woman. Previous trips to Paris, as well as some additional research (read this one by Vogue!) lead me to create my own take on French beauty.

Step 1: Fresh Face

The key to mastering my look is to wear minimal face makeup and maintain a healthy glow. To achieve this, I would recommend being as minimal as possible, with some concealer, highlighter and blush. Not too long ago, I was watching one of my favorite beauty guru’s on Snapchat, Alessandra Steinherr (I know I’ve mentioned her in a previous post). She’s the beauty editor for British Glamour, and she’s constantly having world renowned makeup artists creating makeup looks for her, while sharing their tips and tricks. On a Snapchat, one makeup artist recommended contouring with blush in the winter to create more subtle definition. When I heard this, it made complete sense considering I am significantly more pale in the winter and sometimes a deep bronzer or contour shade looks too strong against my complexion. Also be sure to add some highlighter on the high-points of your face after blush to add some glow! As I’m sure many of you know, a highlighter can seriously make a difference in brightening any look.

This look is perfect for mastering French beauty because it gives you a hint of color and glow, without being too overpowering. I like to use Nars blush in Dolce Vita or the Milk Makeup Lip Pigment in Swear By to create my perfect blush contour.

Step 2: Lashes

Long, dark and defined are important characteristics to keep in mind when creating your lash look. To start, I use a thin black eyeliner to line my upper eyelid as close to my lashes as possible. The key here is to line your lashes without seeming like you have eyeliner on. This isn’t necessarily a “Parisian” thing, but I personally always like to add some drama. I really like the Nars Kohliner or Marc Jacobs Fineliner to achieve a thin and dark line. Both create an extremely precise line (especially the Fine Liner). By smudging in the eyeliner slightly before it dries, you can create a more effortless liner look.

After lining my upper lid, it’s time to go in with the eyelash curler and mascara. This past break, I discovered the Chanel Volume Mascara (as I have mentioned in previous posts). It’s definitely a splurge, but I like to think of it as an investment. The formula and brush create a clump-free look that will not smudge. For the French look, I like to apply two coats to my upper lashes, and an extremely light coat to my lower lashes.

Step 3: Lips

This step is probably the most vital, and the most fun. A subtle yet noticeable lip color really pulls together the entire look, creating a very chic and clean face. I like to use a muted shade either a red, plum, or brown. Red would be the most classic French shade, but sometimes I feel like mixing it up a little. My personal favorite lip colors to use include the Milk Makeup Lip Color in OG Red, Chanel Rouge Double Intense- Ultra Wear Lip Color in Milky Blueberry, and the Nars Pure Matte Lipstick in 413 BLKR.

From left to right: Chanel Milky Blueberry, Nars 413 BLKR, and Milk Makeup in OG Red (this is the shade I’m wearing)

I hope these instructions were helpful in channeling your inner French girl 🙂

 

Alex

February Favorites

The cold weather has arrived and the month of February is in full swing. During the winter months, I feel like I need an extra boost of color or vibrancy … literally anything to help me not look as tired and pale. To solve my problem, I have been using a few key products to help liven up my February look, to create more warmth, and to overall give myself a more awake appearance.

Chanel Volume Mascara

Ever since I discovered a sample of this mascara … I was changed for life. Never had I owned a product that coated my lashes perfectly in just one swipe, while also delivering dramatic volume and curl. The cherry on top is absolutely zero clumps … always. It is a pricey mascara, but I rationalized this purchase based on the fact that I tend to not wear a lot of makeup during the week. I leave this gem for weekends and occasions where I need to turn it up a notch. I have had my tube for about two months, and it’s still going strong. The Chanel Volume Mascara has become an instant staple in my makeup collection.

Liquid Laguna Bronzer

I have been coveting this bronzer ever since I saw it at the 413 Bleeker NARS boutique in New York City last year. This past year, I have seen this bronzer pop up in Sephora stores, but for some reason I never sampled the product. While revisiting the 413 Bleeker location in January of this year, I decided to make the decision to purchase the Liquid Laguna Bronzer. After all … when has NARS ever failed me? Needless to say, this product was just what my skin needed for some extra warmth.

To achieve a subtle warm glow, simply apply a few pumps of the bronzer to a wet beauty blender and contour your face by blending in a “three” around your forehead, under your cheekbones, and slightly under your jawline (just to create a subtle shadow). As NARS lovers know, this bronzer is a makeup collection staple. It creates a perfect subtle tan, without any sign of looking orange. And let’s not forget the slight shimmer that creates a soft luminous sheen. Lately I have been addicted to applying all my makeup with a wet beauty blender, so I am currently obsessed with using this product, and I’m sure I will be for awhile.

Milk Makeup Lip Marker

I don’t know what it is about February, but I definitely feel more sluggish and have minimal effort to continuously touch up my makeup throughout the day. The Lip Markers by Milk Makeup became an instant solution to my problem. All you need to do is line and color in your lips, as if you were coloring with an actual marker. There are a definitely a few things to keep in mind when using this product and to ensure it looks as flawless as can be.

For one, I always like to apply a lip balm prior too using my Lip Marker to add additional hydration. The Lip Marker actually does hydrate your lips, but prefer a little extra something in the winter time. The lip marker can also be streaky sometimes, so using lip balm before or after can help blend in the marker to create a well-blended lip stain. It is also vital to store the markers facing down so the color stays in the felt tip (they literally work like actual markers). They come in a few colors: a dark purple, red, hot pink, and neon orange.

Dual-Intensity

I’ve been a fan of Nars Dual-Intensity for some time now, but let me tell you why I love it so much.

Sometimes I want to take a look from soft to dramatic, and get creative with my colors and application. This can all be possible with Nars Dual-Intensity eyeshadows and blushes. The way to use this makeup is simple: wet a brush or beauty blender, swipe the applicator in the product, and apply! Seriously so simple.

I first became addicted when I tried their Dual-Intensity Eyeshadow in Sycorax (black). It saved the day when it came to creating a smudgy liner look, or a defined cat eye. Literally anything was now possible with one simple product and my outlook on cosmetics changed with a swipe of my eyeliner brush.

After trying the first shade, I had to have more. I then tried the eyeshadow in “Desmondona” aka a beautiful pinky-purple burgundy. The change from wet to dry was crazy… literally. When worn dry, it was a beautiful soft shade of burgundy, but worn wet, it was an intense deep shade that was perfect for a night out on the town. Not to mention … when worn wet, this product will seriously stay on forever.

This past Christmas, Nars released a limited edition dual intensity eye and cheek palette called “Give In Take.” This palette changed the game. Seriously. This cosmetic masterpiece came with a series of shimmery and matte shadows, 2 blushes, and a highlighter. Now at first I was a little intimidated about the blushes. But my solution was simple once I decided to wet my beauty blender, swipe it in the blush, and dab on the apples of my cheeks. It seriously gave me the most gorgeous flush of baby pink that could be blended in to look totally natural.

Now as for the highlighter … I went all in. After applying the highlighter dry, I wet an eyeshadow brush, coat the bristles with the highlighter and apply layers of highlight on to the high points of my cheek and brow bone to create a seriously blinding strobe effect. The highlight looked so shiny and sparkly after using the water, and by using an eyeshadow brush I was able to create a more precise highlight look. Ever since trying this technique, I have not tried another highlight look since (obsessed much?).

The highlighter in the “Give In Take” palette. I wasn’t lying when I said it was blinding…

Nars has tons of other dual intensity eyeshadows and blushes in an array of colors and shades. I seriously suggest trying one out next time you take a trip to Sephora. I am serious when I say that everyone who I show this product to is blown away and instantly puts it on their “things to buy” list. My dual intensity collection is far from complete, and I am soooo excited to see what innovations Nars will come out with in the future.

 

Alex

Brand Spotlight: Herbivore Botanicals

Hello Everyone!

I’m finally back to blogging for my final semester at OU. I can’t believe I’m nearing the end, however I am pretty excited to be out in the real world … especially since I will be interning in NYC again this coming summer (seriously, can it be June already!?).

Anyways, let’s talk makeup.

Over winter break, I worked at Sephora again and I was able to test out and experiment with an array of  up-and-coming beauty brands. One in particular that I fell in love with was Herbivore. Herbivore uses only natural and plant-based ingredients, ensuring that nothing toxic or artificial will be used on your skin. The brand focuses on skincare by offering a variety of facial oils, creams, and masks. I want to share with you my personal experience with the products and why I love them so much.

Moon Fruit Superfruit Night Treatment

To start off, the simple packaging, name, and lavender color of the formula instantly caught my eye while wandering the aisles of Sephora. I instantly sampled the formula on my skin, noticing the delicate texture and non-greasy feel that instantly absorbed into my skin with a massaging motion. I then smelled the product, to discover a calming yet unique scent of lavender and sweet orange.

After sampling the product for a week, I had to buy it. I read the description of the ingredients inside the box and was even more obsessed with it. To start off, the treatment contains Hyaluronic acid. This is a powerfully-hydrating substance which can hold up to 6 liters of water per gram (uhmmm wow). I get patches of dry skin around my eyes and mouth in the winter, and this product totally eliminated every sign of dry patches … which is usually hard to treat.

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The superfruits in the treatment, which include Goji berry and raspberry seed, help to repair your skin against signs of aging and stress while you sleep. Shea butter and Kokum butters also contribute to hydrating the skin. In addition to the hyaluronic acid, you are guaranteed a supple and hydrated complexion with this blend of super ingredients.

The Moon Fruit formula also includes fruit enzymes, which help to exfoliate the skin to leave it glowing and smooth. Such enzymes include papaya, lemon, and orange.

Coco Rose Lip Conditioner

OK, so I saw this lip balm online, and I had to have it. The main reason behind my desire for it was the scent. Coconut and rose are two of my favorite scents, but put them together … seriously life changing.

When I first tried the balm, I noticed the formula was very difficult to use. However, the more you rub your finger into the balm, the softer the formula will get, making it easier to apply. My lips have remained very conditioned since first using this product, and the scent never gets old. Herbivore also makes a coconut rose lip polish that works like a scrub to exfoliate your lips. I have yet to try it, but I must say it’s on my to-do list.

family @hellonathan
Image from www.herbivorebotanicals.com

By going to the brand’s official website, www.herbivorebotanicals.com, you will find a variety of other natural beauty and skincare products. Ranging from bath salts and scrubs, to facial oils and masks, Herbivore has everything you need to create an ideal skincare regimen for natural and organic beauty lovers.

Until next time,

Alex

My Favorite Gift Ideas

Ah yes, it is officially December and the holiday season is now upon us. I don’t know about you, but finals and classes have been consuming the majority of my time, leaving little time to think about holiday gifts.

Lately I have been thinking about gifts for my family and friends, and what better choice than to give the gift of beauty! Beauty products, which include skincare and haircare, can be fitting for anyone, even if they are not big makeup lovers.

I have found a few gift ideas this season that I think are absolutely perfect for anyone at any age.

Here are my favorites:

Function of Beauty

Do you find yourself struggling to find the perfect shampoo and conditioner that caters to your exact haircare needs? That is no longer an issue with Function of Beauty. This new personallized haircare brand allows you to customize your shampoo and conditioner down to the tee. From haircare goals which would include (but not limited to) volume, shine, anti-aging, strengthen, hydrate, and so on.

Besides the goals, you can also customize the color, scent — and how strong you want the scent — and the name. Seriously, this brand has thought of everything. I bought one set for myself, as well as some for others as well. My sister also customized a set for one of her friends as a gift. Bottom line: everyone needs shampoo and conditioner, so why not give someone the shampoo and conditioner that they never even knew they needed!

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Farmacy Honey Potion Mask

Looking for a new face mask? Look no further. This warming honey mask caters to skincare needs that most people can relate to: hydrationradiance, and a clear complexion. This mask brings the spa to your home: to apply, you take the cute little spatula, and lather the honey mask onto your face.

As you rub the mask in, you will feel a warming sensation as the substance turns from a thick-honey colored mask, to a creamy white mask. Leave the mask on for 10-15 minutes, wash off, and show off your brand new revitalized complexion! I also want to add that the packaging is seriously so cute and unique, making it a perfect gift for just about anyone.

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High-Quality Mascara

So, I don’t know about you, but I rarely purchase mascara from a prestige makeup brand. I usually just stick to my Covergirl Clump Crusher Mascara year-round because it’s cheap, and I go through mascara like water.

However, sometimes I will splurge on a designer brand when I feel like making my lashes look extra fab. A great mascara is a perfect gift for essentially any of your girlfriends, because even for the minimalistic girl, mascara is always a necessity.

Here are my top picks:

  • Dior It-Lash: Gives you dramatic volume. The brush is the highlight of this mascara. There are bristles on the tip, so you can get those small, hard-to-reach lashes in the corner of your eye. I also love the stiffness of the brush. Personally, I’m not too fond of flimsy brushes and bristles. This has been my go-to luxury mascara for years.
  • Giorgio Armani Eyes To Kill Mascara: Just bought this mascara for the second time. Definitely a great option if you like a buildable formula that separates, lengthens, and gives volume. Giorgio Armani Beauty creates some phenomenal products (check out their Eye Tint, it has a great, long-lasting formula for those who prefer cream shadows).

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These were just a couple of products that I am currently obsessed with, but there are tons more options available! Sephora has more gift options available for every type of beauty fanatic. From under $10, $25, and $50, you are sure to find the perfect gift for your BFF or mom 🙂

Happy Holidays and talk to you next semester!

Alex

Brand Spotlight: Klorane

I am all for finding new and cool beauty brands. These days, I have been especially interested in organic and natural beauty. With natural products, I feel like the products may not work as well as expected sometimes.

As organic and natural beauty products are becoming more popular, I have noticed the formulas becoming more and more effective, especially the haircare brand Klorane.

Klorane is a natural beauty brand that uses primarily plant-based ingredients to create exceptional hair and skincare products. I am going to share with you the products that I love and why they are a great choice for your natural haircare needs.

Leave-in Cream with Papyrus Milk

This product has been a part of my daily haircare regimen for a while now. It basically does everything you would want in a leave-in cream. It controls frizz, smoothes and softens hair, creates shine, and smells amazing. The fragrance is very light, yet earthy and refreshing at the same time.

After I take a shower, I put less than a pea-sized amount of product on my ends, and wherever else needs a little moisture. A little goes a long way with this one! This haircare product is great for finishing off your look by creating smooth, shiny, healthy-looking hair.

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Conditioner with Pomegranate

I feel like I do not usually notice a major difference when I change up my shampoo and conditioner, but that was simply not the case with this product. Klorane’s Conditioner with Pomegranate delivers supreme smoothness with just a small amount of product.

After using this conditioner for the first time, I noticed my hair was extremely soft, and I was able to run my fingers through it without encountering any tangles, which is very rare for me. I also noticed the AMAZING scent and how long that scent lasted, which is also rare for me … My hair looked more radiant and healthy than it had in while, and I owe it all to Klorane.

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3 Makeup Brushes You Need Now

Hello again!

My major tools for success when it comes to makeup application would definitely have to be brushes. The right brush can make all the difference, no matter what type of product you use. There are so many types of brushes to choose from, and I am going to tell you about the brushes I use to create a flawless makeup look.

 

Large, Fluffy Brush

Everyone needs to own a large, fluffy makeup brush. Whether it’s applying translucent powder, foundation powder, or bronzer, this brush is vital for proper application. I have used the Mie Kabuki Brush by Nars for years now, and I hope to use it for years to come. The large teardrop shape makes it ideal for full coverage, while being precise at the same time. I always use this brush to apply my bronzer, and the narrow tip allows me to create a precise contour.

 

Small Face Brush

Sometimes you need a smaller, more dense brush to create a more detailed contour or highlight, as well as to apply a more concentrated product. Another one of my favorite brushes is the Classic Mini Mulitasker Brush by Sephora. I use this if I want the product to appear more dramatic, and if I want to be more precise.

This brush is great for anything: highlight, contour, blush, you name it. The Mini Multitasker Brush has got you covered!

 

Smudge Eyeshadow Brush

I am obsessed with smudge eyeshadow brushes. They help to create a perfect eye look. I like to use Sephora’s Classic Must-Have Smudge Brush. This is great for lining the top and bottom lash line, or to create more definition in the eye-crease. This product is great for a smoky eye, but using light and neutral shadows makes it a great tool for an everyday eye look too!

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I have many more brushes in my collection, but these three are definitely the tools that I can’t live without! They have been a part of my daily makeup routine forever, and will continue to be in the future. I strongly suggest going makeup brush shopping to truly perfect every one of your makeup looks!

Until next time,

Alex

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Tips for Amazing Lashes

Besides a nice, defined brow, I would say that creating perfect lashes is something that I always try to achieve in my makeup ventures. Aside from mascara, there are a few other small tricks you can use to help create your best lashes yet. I’m going to list some of the steps that I take to achieve long, defined, and voluminous lashes.

Curl

If you don’t curl your eyelashes already, you definitely need to start right now! Creating a curled lash can make shorter lashes appear longer, and longer lashes appear more voluminous. I have tried a few eyelash curlers myself, and drug store curlers work just as well as the high-end versions. It really doesn’t matter which brand curler you have, just as long as you have one!

When using an eyelash curler, I suggest holding the curler down on your lashes for about 5-10 seconds. If you want your lashes to be extra curly, I suggest blowing your hairdryer on your curler for a few seconds before you curl. It’s kind of a weird trick, but whenever I do this, it creates a more dramatic curl that lasts longer when compared to not heating up the eyelash curler. It’s definitely not a must for every day, but for special occasions, it adds something a little extra to your lashes!

Prime

I am a firm believer in priming just about anything, and the answer is yes… there are even primers for your eyelashes! I have tried a primer from both Lancome and Dior, and found that my lashes are more voluminous and defined when compared to only using mascara. I do not use primer every day either, only for special occasions. I recently purchased a clear Brow & Lash Gel from The Body Shop, and was experimenting with it as a primer. I found that when I applied the gel before my mascara, my lashes were more separated and appeared to be longer. The best part is that I got this product for around 10 bucks! Seriously a steal.

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Mascara

Now it’s time for what makes the lashes… the mascara, of course. Personally, I use Covergirl Clump Crusher on a daily basis, and it works like a charm. I always get compliments on my lashes, and it’s all thanks to Covergirl. This mascara separates my lashes and offers volume, while giving me little to no clumps. When I feel like splurging however, I always pick up Dior It Lash. The brush is seriously amazing, and my eyelashes always look their absolute best with this mascara.

As far as application goes, I typically apply two coats.. maybe three if I feel like having a super dramatic look. The key to achieving dark lashes is to first apply the mascara on top of the lashes, then on the bottom. This will make both sides of your lashes look dark, instead of just the bottom side. I also recommend using the tip of the mascara wand on the inner and outer corners of your lashes, and also to apply the mascara as close to your lash-line as possible. Seriously, when you start using the tip of the mascara wand for those hard to reach lashes, it makes all the difference!

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Hope these tips help with achieving your ultimate lash look!

Until next week,

Alex

Tips & Tricks For Tired Eyes

Midterms were definitely brutal this year. I think most of us can agree that we are all a little exhausted from the increased workload. The stress of the semester is really starting to take a toll on my skin. One area in particular that I am concerned about is the dark circles and puffiness around my eyes. I have a few tricks to share with you today that will help to reduce the appearance of tired eyes, that way you’ll look awake and ready for the day (even though you may not be…).

As always, prime

In any case, priming is always my first step after cleansing. There are eye shadow primers, face primers, and yes, under-eye primers. The intention of priming in general is to create a smooth canvas for makeup, and the formula usually includes additional benefits such as hydration and toning. A good under-eye primer should aid to reduce puffiness and dark circles. I use the Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Under Eye Primer, and it works like a charm. It definitely hydrates my skin and makes me under-eye area appear significantly more smooth. A little goes a long way with this product and under-eye creams in general, making the product long-lasting.

Another product that I use to prime isn’t actually labeled as a primer, but it definitely does the trick. The Kate Somerville Goat Milk De-Puffing Eye Balm is seriously my new favorite product. It has a cooling factor to it, which seriously feels amazing. I definitely notice an immediate reduction in puffiness, and overall tired eyes… seriously a miracle worker.

Color Correcting

Now I do not typically color correct, but I read an article for Allure that got me thinking about the benefits of color correcting to hide dark circles. The article talked about a Ben Nye Orange Concealer Stick that does an amazing job of hiding dark circles on people with warmer skin tones. If you have a more fair complexion, you should probably refrain from oranges to color correct, and stick to peachy-pinks. Using a dab of color corrector and blending it with a Beauty Blender would treat those with super dark circles.

Concealer

A great concealer is definitely vital for erasing under-eye dark circles. My all-time favorite high coverage concealer is the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. The formula is definitely medium-high coverage, but very lightweight. The dewey finish makes your eyes appear more radiant and awake. I would suggest applying small lines of concealer in a triangle shape under your eyes, and dabbing it with a Beauty Blender until it is well blended.

Setting Powder

A quality setting powder can be key for finishing off your new, wide awake look. I usually “bake” on my setting powder to create a brighter under-eye. For those who do not know, baking is when you apply a heavy amount of powder under your eye, usually with a Beauty Blender, and swipe away the powder with a fluffy brush after letting it set for a few seconds. Between the Laura Mercier Setting Powder, and the NARS, I would say the Nars Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder takes the cake when it comes to brightening. Now I know that I have mentioned this product in previous posts, but it seriously is amazing. I don’t even go as far as to bake the NARS powder on, I instead just use a small fluffy brush to set the powder with just a few swipes.

If you combine all these steps, I guarantee that you will notice a difference in your dark circles. All signs of puffiness, dark circles, and tired eyes will definitely be reduced. Experiment with all of these steps, or just a few to see what works best for you!

 

Until next time,

Alex

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