GET IT WHILE YOU CAN: BENEFIT’S BELLA BAMBA.

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L-R: (Unblended Swatch on Left, Blended Swatch on Rt.) Benefit Cha-Cha Tint, Bella Bamba Blush

Behold: my first-ever Benefit Boxed Blush. While I am well and truly prepared for the collective “WHAT?!” ‘s that those words are likely to incite, ’tis the truth: never have I ever used Hoola on my cheekbones, Coralista for that peachy-golden flush, or any other famed boxed cheek product from the brand. I’ve had Bella Bamba on my list for a while now (thanks to Ms. Sharon Farrell of YouTube, check her out here) and somehow always shied away from picking it up on trips to my local Sephora. Until, that is, I heard the buzz around the beauty community that it was being discontinued. Lo and behold, the fates provided the push needed for me to snap it up in my online shopping cart and, well, here we are. Bonus: I got it in this Hot 2 Trot set along with their Cha-Cha Tint, something I’ve also been meaning to try for the longest time. 2 for the price of 1. Could the whole charade be any more perfect? And so, in response to the news that Bella Bamba is no longer available separately and is being phased out entirely, I’m telling you now: get this while you can. The blush itself is stunning: an iridescent warm coral/pink shade that has a bit more punch than Coralista, especially if you found the latter lacking slightly in the pigmentation department on application. Think of it as a brightened shade of Coralista/Nars Orgasm varieties everywhere. One more thing: it smells fantastic. Odd thing to say about a blush? Most definitely. But completely, totally true. If you’ve ever tried a Benefit Boxed Blusher before (which, unless you’re me, you most likely have), then the glorious scent isn’t such a novel concept, but… I can’t get over it. Enough said. Cha-Cha Tint was no disappointment compared to its kit mate; creamy, long-wearing, and a beautifully natural shade of mango that adds a bit more of a sunkissed glow to the cheeks. Just apply with the nail polish-like applicator along the cheek and blend, blend blend as fast as possible; this stuff has a tendency to set quickly and leave stripe marks behind if you don’t get to it with the blending action.

Will you be picking up this set?

TATCHA’S RITUAL DISCOVERY KIT.

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DSC_0047I mentioned a couple posts back about how the lovely folks at Tatcha were kind enough to send me some products to test out and review, and today we’ve got the second part of the products I tried. If you haven’t heard of Tatcha before, they’re a luxury Japanese skincare brand inspired by Geisha beauty rituals. Part two of the review? Tatcha’s Ritual Discovery Kit. The kit includes four of their most iconic products: the PURE One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil (25 mL), the SUPPLE Moisture-Rich Silk Cream (10 mL), the RADIANT Deep Brightening Serum (10 mL), and the POLISHED Rice Enzyme Powder (14 x 1g packets).

DSC_0037Here’s the description:

A two-week introduction to your essential four-step ritual. The Cleansing Oil removes makeup and melts away the day, while the Enzyme Powder exfoliates to reveal polished skin. The Brightening Serum evens complexion. Nourish skin with the anti-aging moisturizer tailored to your skin type.

DSC_0021First up and one of their most popular products is their cleansing oil offering. The brand describes it as: A beautiful blend of camellia and rice bran oils. Melts away even waterproof makeup leaving skin fresh and pure. I found this to be similar but slightly lighter in consistency than the Body Shop’s Chamomile Cleansing Oil, the latter being more heavy-duty makeup removing stuff in general. Tatcha’s version is a dream to use- lovely floral scent that’s not overpowering, silky texture, and melts makeup off at the end of the day. I will say that it’s not the most effective cleansing oil I’ve used in terms of removing waterproof mascara, but with an extra pump or two this gets the job done. I love the packaging on all the products, but I particularly love the inclusion of the travel-sized cleansing oil as it’s refillable and contains a pump, so once this runs out you could easily transfer some product into it for travel if you bought the full size or even save this one for weekends away when you need to pack light. Next up, the kit’s moisturizer is the definition of what the beauty community calls holy grail. There, I said it. I don’t throw the term around lightly here on succhisimples, but I have to say it. I. Love. This. Stuff. If nothing else, I would one hundred percent buy the kit myself just to have another adorable sample of this stuff. Tatcha calls it a Luxurious yet weightless feeling gel-cream of Liquid Silk, Squalane, Royal Jelly + HADASEI-3 Bioactive Complex. The HADASEI-3 Complex and Squalane added are some of the brand’s trademark ingredients meant to rehydrate the skin, though even without knowing much about the chemistry that makes up this little tub of wonder I can tell you right now you need to at least try this once in your skincare lifetime. The consistency is definitely a gel-cream as they describe, it lacks the oily/greasy feeling of a gel but hydrates deeply like a cream. The closest match I could find to this was Origins’ GinZing Energy Boosting Moisturizer (review here), which doesn’t hydrate as deeply but is quite similar in texture. While this is very pricey in the full size, if you’re looking for a good skincare investment I can think of no better find thus far than this. Their RADIANT brightening serum that claims to “hydrate while making the skin appear more luminous” wasn’t exactly the standout product of the bunch; while it was nice and again a joy to use, I didn’t find that it outperformed any of my other serums I’m currently using, but it does seem to bump up the glow factor even after you’ve applied moisturizer on top, making the skin look healthier and more dewy in finish. Overall, I’d say a good addition and something worth trying if you’re interested in the set, but not one to run out and purchase in the full size until you know whether or not your skin sees a noticeable difference. Lastly, their water-activated POLISHED Rice Enzyme Powder comes in the form of some pretty neat packaging. The set includes 14 packets of the product, intended to be used once a day for two weeks. It’s meant to “exfoliate without harsh abrasives for effortless baby-soft skin.” Ladies and gentlemen, it does just that. Once you rip open the packet, you pour the contents into wet hands and massage into a (very) wet face to create a soft lather. It doesn’t feel scrubby in the least, so I expect the exfoliating action is more chemical than physical with this one, but I definitely saw a difference after just a few days of use. I’d say keep added skincare regimens like double cleansing or cleansing with a clarisonic to the minimum when using this product, as I found that my skin became slightly more sensitive than normal after use of this plus a face mask and my clarisonic the next morning to the point where I’d feel a burning sensation on applying a product. Case in point, conventional wisdom applies here: don’t overdo your skincare. Subsequent trial again a week later was beyond successful: my skin literally felt like the backside of a four month old baby, I kid you not. To try their enzyme exfoliator is to be converted; harsh scrubs begone.

Overall, I think the set is an excellent value for the money; while it is pricey, you get to test all the brand’s bestselling start-up products in one handy kit and I’m telling you-these are not ones to miss. Definitely worth the price tag.

Will you be picking up the new Ritual Discovery Kit from Tatcha?

CURRENTLY TESTING: BOLD LINER.

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fotd 2I’m typically not one for adventurous eye looks; I’m much more of a stick-to-your-neutrals-one-sweep-wonder-eyeshadow kind of gal. BUT. With the new year come several resolutions: the box is broken, and I am stepping out. Into a new box. Boxed liner, that is. Whilst browsing on Sephora.com, I came across their not-so-little corner of the internet in which they post beauty tutorials, etc. and was so intrigued by their boxed eyeliner look I knew I had to try it for myself and share it with you all. Instead of the classic kitten flick, I started at the middle of the eyelid and drew a flick upwards. Then, at the outer corners, I drew a cat eye at an almost vertical angle with the same pencil liner, Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide-On Liner in Perversion. I find that pencil works better for this look than liquid; it’s much easier to shade in the box with, and this product didn’t budge all day. Lastly, I filled it in added some mascara and blush, and was good to go! I used Orgasm from the Nars One Night Stand Palette on the cheeks, paired with the Revlon Nearly Naked foundation, Tarte setting powder (review here), and the Revlon Lip Butter in Pink Truffle. Not exactly the most wearable look, but I think it is a fun take on the usual angled liner for a chic night out. Simples. Will you be trying some new eye looks this season?

THE CAPSULE BAG #4.

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the capsule bag #4-3The week in beauty has been through a bit of re-discovery with some new bits thrown in after my previous haul. I’ve done an entire post about my new purchases here, if you’d like to take a look. On the bases front, I’ve been sampling Smashbox’s CC cream like nobody’s business. This stuff is uber-creamy and blends in effortlessly when paired with my long-time brush lover, the Real Techniques Buffing brush. I know I rave on and on about the Nars One Night Stand cheek palette, so what’s one more post featuring it as the centerpiece of my affections? Maybe too much. Definitely too much. In short, I made up my mind long ago to never give in to the hype surrounding Nars Orgasm, thinking it would be too sheer against my medium/tan skin, but I’m so in love with this shade that I’ve forsaken every other blush I own for the past week in favor of this golden peach tint. See the review here. The Tarte Aqualilies Smooth Operator Setting Powder was featured in the haul post linked above, and it’s been great to keep my T-Zone shine free all day. Let me know if you’d like to see a review on this one below. Lastly, I’ve been getting back into eyeshadow with a bang lately, and the Wet N’ Wild for Beauty Benefits Ultimate Expressions Palette is absolutely stunning. A gift from a certain best friend, the gold shade packs a serious punch with some shimmer to match that of my all-time favorite shadow, MAC woodwinked. (If you’re interested in seeing some of my other MAC shadow favorites, take a look at this post.) And there we have it! All the products I’ve been loving for the past week, simples.

BLOGMAS DAY ONE: HOLIDAY MAKEUP LOOK.

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look 2Hello everyone! Today’s post is the first official Blogmas post, a tutorial-esque holiday makeup look diy bit of mumbo-jumbo. If you haven’t heard of Blogmas, I will now defer you to my post that explains all about it here. This week we’ve got some beauty-centric Christmas bits, with another post going up on the weekend. Now, I am by no means a makeup artist, but I do love primping and prepping just as much as the average girl (maybe even more), so this is more of a “here’s how I do my makeup” sort of deal.

With the holidays of course  comes Christmas parties. Oh, how I adore thee. The most oft-used trick in the beauty books for fêtes around this time o’ year seems to be the bold lip, be it red, oxblood, berry-toned, etc, but to be honest, I find wearing bright lipstick to be far too high maintenance for this type of affair; you want to have fun and be festive, not worry if your lip product is going to smear or budge. I love a good red-toned bronze/copper shadow for Autumn/Winter, so naturally I broke out the perfect match from my stash. Meet Mac’s Ever Elegant Pigment. Unfortunately, it was in last year’s Tender Warm Crushed Metallic Pigment set along with four other shades (which do not compare, trust me), but you may still be able to find one floating around at a CCO someplace. If not, Clinique’s Black Honey eyeshadow is really similar (although it’s a pressed shadow), and probably easier to work with. After applying a primer all over the lid and through the crease (I used Mac’s Soft Ochre paint pot), I pressed the pigment on the eyelid with a damp flat shader brush to build up the intensity closer to the lashline. I then took a fluffy blending brush and blended out the pigment all the way into the crease, picked up some more product, and worked it into the outer V, blending the whole shebang out afterwards so it all looked seamless and smokey. I then took my Real Techniques Detailer brush and blended the pigment under my lower lashline. Lastly, I highlighted the browbone with a super cheap, great-quality drugstore option from NYC, I believe it’s called their loose shimmer powder. I have it in the lightest shade, Radiance, and blended it out with my finger. After adding some of my favorite eyeliner, Mac’s eye kohl in Smolder, to my upper lashline, waterline, and tightline, I curled them lashes and added a few coats of Maybelline’s the rocket mascara. *Quick tip: If you find that mascara smudges on the skin under your bottom lashes when you try to add more coats of mascara, try using a business card underneath the eye and applying the mascara that way.* This stuff is amazing, and I’ve got a full review of it here. Base products are my usual: Chanel Vitalumière Aqua in B40, Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Ginger, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light. For the lips, I took a nude lip pencil, this time it was Rimmel’s lip liner in Natural, and layered Nyx’s lip gloss in Beige over top to keep it simple. So there you have it! The nearly one-step smokey eye with a bit of sparkle, perfect for the holidays. Simples.

If you haven’t entered our giveaway yet, please do so below! What are your picks for holiday makeup looks this year? Let me know in the comments below:)

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AN ODE TO THE ONE NIGHT STAND.

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palette interiorMy love affair with blush is nothing new, but this… I mean, come on. When it first came out, all the major bloggers declared themselves obsessed. These are the people I trust the most with what to put on my face every single day, so yes, I’ll admit: I was intrigued. I remember back in the day, Fleur of Fleur de Force on youtube was going on about the Nars Danmari All About Cheek Palette, which was, to say the least, beautiful. And limited edition. So, I gave up on getting my mitts on one of Nars’ massive six-shade palettes until this came out. The Nars Guy Bourdin One Night Stand Cheek Palette. Please and thank you. But I resisted, I swear. I even managed to talk myself out of this purchase, being that it costs a whopping $65. I was nearly off the hook when the product sold out at Sephora everywhere (as in, no more are being made sold-out, not check back soon.)… And then I went online and stalked swatches. And more swatches. And finally more. And all of a sudden? Back in stock. Alas, ’twas fate. But I digress. I only own one other Nars blusher, Luster, and the Laguna bronzer, both of which I’m completely obsessed with. But having six good-sized shades in one handy palette? Genius. First up, the highlighter of the bunch, Devotee, is an almost frosty offering, but if blended well gives the most gorgeous high-sheen finish in a pinky beige that pairs beautifully with the blushes. Nars laguna is an old favorite, giving incredible warmth to the face without going on orange-y at all. The only matte shade, Misinguette, looks terrifyingly bright in the pan, but translates beautifully on the skin to brighten and wake up the complexion. Deep Throat is a great staple pink shade for everyday. I’m happy to report that the next offering, the cult shade Orgasm, lives up to its hype, giving the most stunning, lit-from-within glow. Lastly, Goulue, my favorite of the bunch, is gorgeous for autumn; when applied with a light hand, it’s just the product for the whole flushed Snow-White-running-through-the-forest look I love so much. François Nars, if you’re listening, do me a solid and release this babe in a full-sized single. Pretty please. Unfortunately, the palette has just sold out again on sephora.com, but keep looking in individual stores and online; I’m sure they have more on the way. And I might just have a giveaway of one of these coming up… Stay tuned. In summation, a must-have for any blush fanatic.

IF YOU BUY ONE THING THIS MONTH…

ambient lighting palette.Please, please let it be this. Yes. She’s a beaut. You’ve probably even seen her flitting around the blogosphere, stealing the hearts of even the most frugal beauty addicts. But how can you resist? Of course we’ve heard fellow bloggers go on and on about the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders and their ability to blur imperfections, add radiance… The list goes on. But how do you pick a shade? What if you want to keep things blurred and matte around the t-zone but sun-warmed and bronzed on them apples, all the while lifting the cheekbones with stunning micro-shimmer reminiscent of the most flattering lighting imaginable?

*Enter, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette.*

In a word, it’s photoshop at its finest, encased in a handy-dandy palette, so you can bring a customizable studio lighting kit everywhere you go. It includes three shades, two of which are permanent (Dim Light and Radiant Light), and one limited edition shade exclusive to the palette (Incandescent Light). The first, Dim Light, is a stunning setting powder, doing the job of blurring out fine lines and somehow giving the appearance of the smoothest skin you’ve ever seen. I kid you not. Next up, Radiant Light amps up the bronze factor, warming up the complexion with a subtle shimmer. I’m talking micro, ultra finely-milled shimmer particles. Lastly, rounding up the bunch is a highlighter like no other, with tiny flecks of greeny-pink shimmer to lift them cheekbones. In terms of size, a full-size Ambient Lighting Powder retails at $45 a pop for .35 oz. The palette, priced at $58, weighs in at a total of .348 oz, with each shade being .116 oz. While it’s not exactly a bargain, since you are paying extra for packaging, I think it’s still a great way to try a few different shades before taking the plunge and buying the full size, plus it’s great for travel, since you have everything you need all in one. Did I mention it includes a mini size of the renowned Mineral Veil Primer?

swatches.

L-R: Dim Light, Incandescent Light, Radiant Light.

veil mineral primer.Well, it does.

This thing is absolutely everything it’s hyped up to be and more; a few tiny dabs blended in gives the smoothest canvas for foundation in the history of ever. This one retails at $52 for the full size, making it one of the most ridiculously expensive things on the planet, but the sample size alone is worth $8 for .16 oz. Will I be purchasing when this runs out? As much as it pains my bank account to admit it, yes. No question.

So, if you’re looking at all the new holiday palettes, save yourself the trouble of trying to figure out which to choose and just buy this already. Although I do have my eye on the NARS One Night Stand Palette for Christmas, but that’s a different story entirely…

ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER MELODY

bloghopbutton_zps0d768d38And here we have it! 14 weeks of melodies, number two. The week has been far better than the last ( I might even venture so far as to say it’s been the best in a very, very long time.), but I did spend most of it sick at home with Vick’s vapo-rub slathered on and a roll of tissues out nonstop, so I’ve been listening to a fair few ‘tunes to keep me going.If you haven’t heard of Soley, she’s an Icelandic artist and a member of the band Seabear. She has a gorgeous voice, and this song… There are no words. It’s absolutely incredible. It’s called “Pretty Face”; the entire album is hauntingly beautiful. Have a listen: http://youtu.be/go9qo66Kh4M…and that’s my pick of the week. I’m a little late on this one, seeing as it’s meant to be on Tuesdays. Want to join in on the hop? Have a look at Beauties Unlocked and link up your accounts for a chance to win some prizes!

WHAT I’M WEARING: BACK TO SCHOOL

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DSC_0333School starts next week, and  of course that can only mean one thing. Well, that’s not true. It also means tests and essays and an entire assortment of other nasty, awful things. But mainly, back-to-school means shopping. Out with the old, in with the new. I’ve been rebooting my skincare and makeup recently as well, so I’ll be doing a post on it shortly. My closet, however, is a different story. The clothes stay. That is, I’ll be re-wearing all of last year’s clothing, at least until labor day sales show themselves on the horizon. To be honest, I don’t need the reboot in terms of garments, so I’d rather not waste money on unnecessary items.

The first day of school, among other things, stands out as being one of the most stressful days of the year. The others are every single day afterwards until summer. But amongst these strong contenders, day one of the year is budding with with nerve-wracking potential, both good and bad. A new year can mean a new, fresh start, or, after the first day, things can take a turn for the worse, and we can end up on a path straight into the land of no return. First impressions on this very important day, as you might expect, are essential. I’ve planned my first outfit of the year to show you all today, so I hope you like it!

The top is from one of my favorite stores in New York, the massive, four-story Uniqlo. If you’re looking for staple items for a great price, that’s the place to look. They have an amazing selection and are incredibly affordable. Check out their website here. The shoes (not pictured) are a pair of Prada loafers I picked up on my last trip to The City at Saks’ shoe sale. If you’ve been to the Saks on Fifth Ave. in NYC, you know that the eight floor is shoe paradise. A few years ago, I walked into Prada and spotted these, begging (and even crying about it in the store) my parents to buy them for me. But, being the young child that I was and the shoes being around $490, it was a no-go. Imagine my surprise when I spotted them for just $175 at Saks? It’s still a pretty high price, but the quality is fantastic and they’re incredible versatile, smart shoes. I prefer to invest in a pair than buy twelve that run down in a year. You can get them here. The bag is a Cambridge Satchel in the 15-inch, their largest offering. It’s wonderfully sturdy and fits slim books and a laptop perfectly, it’s a great option for college students, since it’s beyond stylish and incredibly functional. You can pick and personalize your own Cambridge Satchel here. Last but not least, I found the necklace at Ann Taylor one day for $10 on the sale rack, so unfortunately you can’t get it anymore, but any statement collar/necklace will do! I just went for something more subtle for school, but the shirt is merely a blank canvas; accessorize to your liking. The pants were a bargain buy for just $7.80 at Forever 21, and here I’ve just rolled them up slightly.  There you have it! Be sure to let me know what you’ll be sporting for back-to school this year :)