Category Archives: Makeup

Overview + Review | E.L.F. Studio Brushes


Eyes Lips Face (ELF) was the first makeup brand that I really got into because they’re so affordable compared to other brands out on the market (even in the drugstore). They pretty much always have sales and coupon codes floating around. Over the past few years, I’ve amassed a collection of their Studio brushes. These brushes are great for the price (starting at $3 a pop). ELF has an Essential line of brushes as well, which are cheaper (starting at $1), but I find the quality of the Studio line brushes to be much better, in my experience.

All of these brushes have synthetic Taklon hairs. They’re very soft, and I have not had any issue with shedding or bleeding during washes. I find that I do have to be careful in maintaining the bristle shapes. They don’t quite “bounce back” after cleaning and drying. The handles are made of wood with a matte plastic coating. They were $3.00 each, with the exception of the Kabuki Face Brush (unfortunately discontinued), which was $8.00.

elf_sb_smallbrusheself_sb_smallbrushes_closeTOP TO BOTTOM: Small Smudge Brush, Small Angled Brush, Contour Brush, Angled Contour Brush, Flawless Concealer Brush.

Small Smudge Brush
I like to use this brush to smudge out gel and pencil liners. The bristles are soft, but dense, so it’s a very nice brush for detailed work.

Small Angled Brush
This is very nice for applying brow powder, as well as easily creating winged eyeliner looks. I like to use this brush to “drag out” gel and pencil eyeliners to create that softly-defined wing.

Contour Brush
It’s nice for creating sharper creases and blended/smoky cat eyes in the outer corners, but I prefer a bit of a bigger brush for blending larger areas.

Angled Contour Brush
I like this brush for packing on color as well as blending. It’s a round brush with flat angled bristles, so it’s nice for applying color as well as blending it out, especially in the crease area.

Flawless Concealer Brush
I don’t typically use brushes for blending concealer, so I’ve been using this brush to blend eyeshadows. I love it for easily creating “washes” of color. It’s my must-have for smoky eyes and “single-shadow” looks.

elf_sb_largebrusheself_sb_largebrushes_close1elf_sb_largebrushes_close2TOP TO BOTTOM: Mineral Powder Brush, Blush Brush, Powder Brush, Complexion Brush, Kabuki Body Brush.

Mineral Powder Brush
This is a good multi-tasking face brush for pressed and loose powders. It does a good job of applying mineral makeup, as well as blush, highlighters, and setting powders.

Blush Brush
Not my favorite brush for applying blush since it is quite small, but it gets the job done. The tapered end is nice for contouring the cheekbones.

Powder Brush
This is my favorite brush for applying setting powders. It’s very nice for patting on powder. The soft, flat bristles make it good for buffing in mineral makeup and liquid base makeup as well.

Complexion Brush
Another great multi-tasking brush. I can use this for blush, setting powder, bronzer, and highlighter. The rounded/flat edge is also great for contouring too.

Kabuki Body Brush
ELF no longer carries this brush, but this is basically the jumbo version of their Kabuki Face Brush. It’s nice for applying bronzers, highlighters, and setting powders to large body areas. The bristles are extremely soft. I’d recommend finding some sort of storage case to maintain its shape.


ELF has by far my favorite affordable makeup brushes. The Studio line is a great option for those just starting with makeup. There’s a nice variety of brushes to choose from, and a lot of them work well as multi-tasking brushes.

Have you tried any of ELF’s Studio Brushes? What did you think? What are some of your favorites?

Tag | “Why Do You Wear Makeup?”


1. “When did you begin wearing makeup?”

I began wearing makeup in middle school to cover up puberty-related acne. But it wasn’t until my skin started clearing up (just a few years ago!) that I actually began enjoying makeup as something that was fun to do and experiment with, and not just something that I thought I needed to feel better about myself.

2. “How do you feel without makeup?”

Honestly, I don’t always feel my best without makeup, but I never want to become the type of person that cannot leave the house without having it on. It’s important for me to be able to feel comfortable in my own skin. I’m trying not to depend on makeup to feel good about myself, and I never want to think of my “makeup face” as my “normal face.”

3. “What do you like about makeup?” 

I often feel like I am pampering myself when I put on makeup. I enjoy the process. It can help make me feel a bit more polished or awake. I like how it can be used to complement an outfit or fit a certain mood or style — playful, sophisticated, androgynous, retro, feminine, etc. I think it’s also cool how makeup can be used to enhance and alter one’s facial features (like theater/special effects makeup).

4. “What are three of your ‘Holy Grail’ (HG) makeup items?”

• Vichy Dermafinish Corrective Foundation in “Opal” (formerly called “Vichy Dermbland Corrective Foundation”). Like many others, I discovered this gem after watching Lisa Eldridge’s Acne/Blemish Covering Makeup Tutorial. It’s my go-to for covering zits or other dark spots.

• Kryolan Anti-Shine Powder. There’s no such thing as a “bulletproof” powder for oily skin, but this is the closest I could find. You can read my full review on it here.

• Sephora Collection Skin Perfect CC Cream in “Light.” It’s one of my more recent favorites. It has the lightweight feel of a tinted moisturizer, but provides a bit more coverage. I’ve been enjoying it more and more now that the weather is warmer and more humid.

I would love to know your answers to these tag questions too. 🙂

Review | Holika Holika Aqua Petit Jelly BB Cream


While searching for a new sheer base to try out for the summer months, I came across this BB cream from Holika Holika. This is their Aqua Petit Jelly BB Cream. It’s available on Amazon, as well as in a few Asian beauty e-shops like PrettyAndCute, but I’ve found the best deals on eBay.

Like the name implies, the consistency is light and jelly-like. It is water-based, and almost reminds me of Make Up For Ever Face & Body Liquid Makeup; it has a similar lightweight, gel texture. This BB cream contains aloe and mint water, so upon application it feels cool and soothing, which I think is a nice touch for summer time.

Like most Asian BB creams, the shade selection is very limited. This comes in only two shades, and I chose #02 “Natural Beige”, which is the darker of the two. It matches my natural skin tone pretty well (my MAC coloring is NC20-25). This shade has a slightly yellow undertone. It doesn’t have a grayish cast like many other Asian BB creams.


You get 40 mL of product (about 1.4 oz). It comes in a frosted glass bottle that resembles a jello mold (Asian cosmetics always have adorable packaging). The cap holds a plastic spatula for collecting the BB cream. The box also came with a makeup sponge (I prefer using my fingers when applying most base makeup). While the packaging is attractive, I don’t like how the spatula does not quite reach the bottom of the bottle; it’ll be a bit difficult to ensure every last bit of product comes out.


The coverage is light to medium, and buildable. I don’t find the coverage sufficient enough to hide major blemishes or dark spots, so I do have to supplement with a concealer. The lightweight, semi-matte finish doesn’t mask the skin’s natural texture, is very comfortable to wear, and looks natural. It feels a little bit moisturizing without feeling greasy or sticky. When worn alone, this BB cream does not last that long at all on my oily skin; I have to apply a setting powder to get the most wear out of it through the day. It did not oxidize at all, and whatever was left at the end of the day didn’t look blotchy or patchy. Since it is so thin, it doesn’t do much to conceal large pores, so I would recommend a primer underneath for that purpose. It has a very light floral scent, which I don’t find overpowering and doesn’t seem to linger on the skin after application. This BB cream also has some sun protection; SPF 20 PA++, which I always appreciate.

INGREDIENTS: Water, Titanium Diioxide, hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Acrylates/C10-30 AlkylAcrylaate Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Sorbitan isostearate, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Sodium Hyaluronate, Mentha Piperita (peppermint) Leaf Extract, Codium Tomentosum Extract, Enteromorpha Compressa Extract, Macrocystis Pyrifera Extract, Ecklonia Cava Extract, Gelidium Cartilagineum Extract, Laminaria Japonica Extract, Mentha Arvensis Leaf Extract, Mentha Rotundifolia Leaf Extract, Imperata Cylindrica Root Extract, Caviar Extract, aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Triethanolamine, Steric acid, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Aluminum hydroxide, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Isohexadecane, polysorbate 80, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Butylene Glycol, Hydroxyapatite, Agar, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Glycerin, PEG-8, Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Atelocollagen, Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Chlorphenesin, Propylparaben, potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Frangrance(Parfum), Iron Oxides (CI 77492), Iron Oxides (CI 77491), Iron oxides (CI 77499)

It contains a lot of plant extracts which are supposed to help soothe and nourish the skin. I have not noticed any irritation, clogged pores or other adverse effects from using this BB cream. It’s very nice for everyday wear when you don’t want a heavy layer of base makeup but still need some evenness to your skin tone. Aside from issues with the packaging, I really enjoy this BB cream and will continue to use it throughout the summer.

Have you tried Holika Holika’s Aqua Petit Jelly BB Cream before? What did you think?

Fun Find | Blackheart Beauty Nail Polish


Went on an impromptu shopping adventure with my twin sister the other day and found these Blackheart Beauty nail polishes on sale at Hot Topic. Blackheart actually specializes in clothing and lingerie but they do have a few beauty products as well, which include these badass-looking polishes.

I love the skull-shaped bottles!


I’m not sure on the exact names of the colors since these these weren’t labeled. 🙁 One is a a glossy black with flecks of gold glitter, and the other is a pretty duo-chrome iridescent blue-purple. You need at least two coats for an opaque application.


Not exactly “summer colors,” but they still look fun. 🙂

Have you tried Blackheart Beauty nail polishes? What did you think?

Review | Kryolan Anti-Shine Powder


This review is also a rave. I have very oily skin. The “washed-my-face-this-morning-and-I’m-shiny-by-lunchtime” type of oily. I’ve had this in my makeup stash for a few years now, and after straying and trying a number of other cult-favorites like Rimmel Stay Matte Powder and MAC Blot Pressed Powder, I always come back to this.

Kryolan is a lesser-known beauty brand. It’s one of those makeup companies that specialize in theater/stage makeup. I think of this as a “work-horse” setting powder. The packaging isn’t the most attractive, but the product itself is excellent at controlling oil and shine throughout most of the day. With the other aforementioned powders I’ve tried, I still have oil breakthrough after just a couple of hours, but this powder keeps me matte for most of the day. I had originally purchased this on eBay but it’s also available on the Kryolan website.


Ingredients: Dimethylimidazolidinone Rice Starch, Talc and may contain: [+/- Titanium Dioxide CI 77891, Iron Oxides CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, Ultramarines CI 77007, Yellow 5 Lake CI 19140]

It is a white, odorless powder, but when applied lightly, it doesn’t leave a white cast.

Perhaps the only complaint I have about the product is the packaging. It comes in a big 30-gram sifter jar (which will probably last forever, by the way), so it can get quite messy if you’re not careful, and it isn’t exactly travel-friendly. I can only hope that they will one day make a pressed version of this, or least put it in a sifter jar that covers the holes when not in use.

What are your favorite setting powders?

Review | Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm


I purchased these from Ulta last holiday season while Christmas shopping. It’s one of those cult-favorites and I’ve heard good things, so I thought I’d give them a try.

These particular scents, “Black Cherry & Pomegranate” (limited edition) and “Shea Butter & Vitamin E” came together as part of a “Lip Service Lip Duo” set. Normally each individual one is $7.50, but this set was $12.00. First of all, these smell absolutely amazing. They smell so intense and almost good enough to eat, especially the Black Cherry & Pomegranate. I always have to take a whiff before I apply. These balms are colorless, but they do have an SPF of 25, which is pretty good for a lip product, in my opinion.

I’ve been using these mostly in the evening for the past several months. The texture is nice and smooth and it doesn’t have any weird taste. It conditions the lips well and doesn’t leave the lips looking shiny or glossy (a plus for guys, I suppose). I found that I needed to reapply a couple of times throughout the day, just like with any lip balm. A lot of other balms I’ve tried sit on top of the skin, but this sinks in, softening dry patches. Even after it has completely absorbed, my lips still feel soft for a few hours.

Overall, I thought these were very nice. A tad pricey for a lip balm, but if you’re into deliciously, richly scented lip products, or are looking for a nice “guy-friendly” balm that isn’t colored or glossy, these might be worth a try.

What do you think of Jack Black’s lip balms?