Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My New Favorite Face!

Recently, I decided to truly dive into the world of highlighting and contouring.  This is tricky business.  After watching countless YouTube tutorials and trying multiple products to achieve my look, I have come across some favorites.  A few of them I have been using for a while and just changed up how I used them.

Why contour and highlight?  To emphasize or create a flattering bone structure!  Be CAREFUL-and don't try this for this first time before going out in public.  It takes practice and it is easy to overdo and look dirty or unnatural.

I linked my favorite tutorial below!

Old favorites, new methodology:

1. Hoola Bronzer, Benefit Cosmetics-  To me, this is the most perfect bronzer.  It's not too dark, not too light, not orange-and works perfectly for contouring my face.  Blends beautifully. HUGE fan of this product.  I haven't found a bronzer I like this much in a long time.

2. Banana Powder, Ben Nye-  I use this to set my highlight and as a light dusting over my foundation (a must for me who is so oily).  This product is AH-MAZE-ING.  No better oil control powder out there. Period.  (I've tried a ton!)

New favorites:

1. Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Treatment Concealer in "Neutralizer", Maybelline New York- I use this as my highlighting concealer and it really helps brighten the areas of my face that should stand out!

2. Baked Split Highlighter Duo with Double-Ended Applicator, Laura Gellar Beauty- Beware, it's pricey-but you barely use any of it when contouring so it will last forever...I can already tell! Beautiful on my cheekbones and the bridge of my nose.

3. Deep Throat Blush, Nars- love the color, kinda grossed out by the name.  Glides on smoothly and evenly, placed right above the contour line.  Nars has the best blush out there-hands down.  Love this shade! 

A lot of highlight/contour tutorials use a dark concealer or foundation as a contour as well as a dark eyeshadow or bronzer.  I do NOT like this method.  It does not work for me at all.  It is too much for my oily skin!  My favorite hightlight/contour tutorial is by BeautyBox1211 and can be found here:  She even uses a brush like the one found in Hoola bronzer! :)

Good luck!

beautiful. sophia

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stepping Outside the Mascara Box

Do you ever have a hard time trusting that a new or different type of product will give you what you need?  I was that way with mascara for a long time, specifically-with mascara wands.

Here is the type of mascara wand I was hopelessly devoted to:

Look familiar? I have literally used this type of wand since I was 12? 13? Now that's commitment!  I was never even a big fan of a brush with any sort of a curve, because-why fix something that's not broken?  WELL.  I'm not sure what made me step outside of the closed-minded-mascara-wand-box, but I did.   Within the last few months I've stumbled upon two new mascaras that are my favorite of all time, and they have brushes I never thought I'd like!

 1. They're Real, Benefit Cosmetics, $23

Check out that wand! In my opinion, you cannot beat this design when it comes to separating, lengthening, and knocking out every. single. lash.  The ball tip resembles a sea urchin and reaches out to get to the very inside corner and outside edges of your lash line.  It also grabs and gets rid of clumps (which there are very few of when if comes to this mascara).

Apparently, this wand has 326 alternating micro bristles?! get out of town.  They are shorter and stiffer than a traditional mascara wand and...they work.  Lashes get a good amount of volume, go on for miles, and LITERALLY will have people asking you: are those real?!  Very little clumping, flaking, or dragging.  High quality mascara.

The one downfall of this mascara is that it is a little pricey if you like to coat your lashes quite a few times each application like I do.  Sometimes I will use another mascara first and finish off with this guy to make the product last!

2.  Rocket Volume, Maybelline New York, $7-8

This mascara also has tons of micro bristles on a wand that performs similar to They're Real.  Just like the name boasts, a ton of volume is to be expected!   Lashes will also be lengthy and gorgeous.  A little more clumping than They're Real, but that is to be expected sometimes with more volume.  (Plus I can't even tell you how many coats I use on a daily basis).  You cannot beat the lashes you get for the price of this product.  Occasional flaking, but not much.  Is it just me or has Maybelline been making some kick-butt mascara forEVER?!  Remember Great Lash, bright pink and green packaging? Still around, and still amazing, with a 5 dollar price tag!

My favorite lash combo is to start with Rocket Volume and finish with They're Real.  Gorgeous lashes!

Great lashes have such a way of making your eyes appear bright and beautiful!

Combo of They're Real and Rocket Volume! :)

What are your favorite mascaras?!


beautiful.sophia on Twitter

Sunday, August 4, 2013

NYX Butter Gloss Review

So I'm not going to lie to you... I've become a kind of "makeup snob" over the last few years.  Once I try a more expensive product I have a hard time turning back to my drug store finds.  However-there is just no denying a good product no matter what the price!  This weekend I popped into my local ULTA Beauty to try the NYX Butter Gloss, because I've heard multiple people rave about this product.

BOOM. I'm sold.  The glosses are unbeatable considering they have a FIVE DOLLAR price tag! The color is more concentrated than you can typically find in a gloss, and they have a soft, yes, buttery (imagine that) consistency.  If you're not rubbing your lips together, drinking, or eating-they also wear for a decent amount of time considering that's just not something glosses are known for.  My roommate even said to me Saturday night, "Your lipgloss is poppin'!" She was right.

Here are the colors I tried: (left to right, top to bottom)

      1."Creme Brulee"                  
      3."Peaches and Cream"      
      4."Strawberry Parfait"   

My favorite is the Peaches and Cream! Two coats and it is a gorgeous bright pink :)

I think these are perfect to go over lip stains.  I am already planning to wear Strawberry Parfait over my Tarte Lip Stain in "Fiery!"  I'll let you know how that goes ;)

These rival some pretty expensive glosses so I give them two thumbs up!!


beautiful.sophia Twitter

Link to Butter Gloss

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Skincare Basics Part 1: Nighttime Rituals

Want to know something completely embarrassing? I never used to wash my face before I went to sleep.  I KNOW.  Skincare suicide. It's completely awful to not care for your skin before hitting the sack.

After I started to read up on the importance of taking care of your skin both day and night, I turned myself around and implemented a fierce nighttime routine.  Since I began this routine, my skin has taken a turn for the (much, much) better.  Typically, I do not count out any product, but, I think I have found a miracle product.  Keep reading!


1.  First, I wash my face.  I wear a decent amount of makeup so this takes 2-3 washes (especially for mascara-what a pain!).  I prefer to use a cream cleanser for this reason.  I have the occasional breakout, but nothing too serious so I stick with a long time favorite, Neutrogena's Oil-Free Acne Wash, Pink Grapefruit Cream Cleanser. Loveeeee the scent!  This seems to cut through my makeup nicely, fight my few breakouts, and isn't too harsh.

2. Tone!  Per the dermatologist on Dr. Oz-regular old Witch Hazel is the best toner you can use.  I took his advice and completely agree.  Keeps my pores small and clean :D.  Apply with a cotton ball especially to the areas where your pores are more noticeable (nose!).  Wait a few minutes after use.

3. COCONUT OIL. This is it people, THE MIRACLE WORKER.  I cannot explain to you what this product has done for my skin.  When I wake up in the morning my skin looks fresh, even, glowing, and my fine lines-barely visible.  I only use the oil on my forehead, around my eyes, and on my neck/chest.  Why? These are not acne-prone areas for me, and I don't have many fine lines/wrinkles in other areas on my face.  If they sensitive areas for you, just try it out and see how your skin reacts.  It shouldn't be too bad considering this is all natural.  Which brings me to my next point-one must use virgin, organic coconut oil-we don't want any extra bad stuff in there that will take away from all the good stuff ;).  I like Trader Joe's Virgin Organic Coconut Oil.  The coconut oil starts off as a solid, but melts quickly on your fingers.  You don't need much! At only $6-10/ bottle you cannot beat this bang for the buck!!!

4. Get the blood flowing!  Facial massage is a technique many people in Hollywood rave about.  Coming from a healthcare background, it makes sense to me.  It helps the blood circulation, relaxes the muscles and expression lines, and makes your skin come alive.   I utilize these techniques while applying my coconut oil to increase the product's effectiveness and get the benefits of the massage-double whammy.  Skincare experts say skip the botox-get to massaging! here is an article from the Wall Street Journal!

Remember, it is important to allow 2-3 weeks for your skin to adjust to a new skincare routine before freaking out about your skin reacting to it.  The best thing you can do it be consistent.  Don't skip a night and don't change products frequently.  Just like change stresses us out, it will stress your skin out too!


Foundation Favorites

Choosing the right foundation has always been somewhat of a battle for me. So many things to consider!

Here’s what goes through my head: is it the right color? what if I get a tan? WILL IT CONTROL MY OIL? will it sit well under my setting powder and bronzer? how long will it last during the day? are the amount of product in the bottle and the quality worth the price?

PHEW. I’m exhausted. However, after many years of trying tons of foundations I am proud to say I top 3!

1. Make Up Forever-Mat Velvet, $36
2. Tarte Cosmetics-Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Foundation, $38
3. Revlon-Color Stay Foundation for Oily/Combination Skin, $10

Why Make Up Forever Mat Velvet is my favorite: it provides full coverage without being too heavy, it glides over skin during application, controls oil, and lasts for at least 8 hours (a huge accomplishment with my high level of oil production). I would suggest this foundation even if you don’t have super oily skin because of its high quality! This is the best for my every day use.  Available for purchase through Sephora.

Tarte’s Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Foundation is of a little heavier/thicker consistency than the Mat Velvet, but provides a fantastic level of coverage and oil control. Another favorite and love it for a night out on the town when I’m looking to get a little fancy with my makeup ;o)  I also LOVE Tarte's BB Cream for the summer months.  When I am relaxing on the beach, it provides a little coverage, dynamite protection with it's SPF, and stays put even when you are getting a little hot! Available for purchase through Ulta, Sephora, and at

Revlon’s Color Stay Foundation packs an amazing punch for having a smaller price tag. While I don’t like it as much as the expensive brands, it still provides awesome coverage and oil control. They also make other versions of this brand for different skin types! Available for purchase at Target or among multiple other drugstores and grocery stores.

Remember 1. to test foundation colors on your jaw line, not your hand.  Also, word on the beauty street is that some makeup stores *cough cough* Sephora (not that I show any bias) have a small machine that can match your skin to the right foundation color with a simple picture, 2. to purchase a darker color if you do get a tan, 3. to moisturize/prime before application, and 4. to set with your favorite powder.
I prefer to apply foundation with my hands so no product is lost and I have more control! 

What are your favorite brands for your skin type?!


All About Brows!

We all hear makeup artists explain the importance of a well-shaped brow to the look of a face. How true is that?!

When I’m out and about and find myself people watching-I’m always checking out other women’s eyebrows; they have a significant impact on how “put together” someone’s face appears. I’ve known many females who have gotten their eyebrows waxed and come out with some very questionable brows. I’ve also witnessed the impact of the notorious “over pluckers” (I was one of these my freshman year in high school-thank goodness they grew back).

When I started to explore the world of high-end cosmetic products, I came across the Benefit Beauty Brow Bar concept. In Michigan, these are located at Ulta Beauty stores. I saw pictures of others who had “Benefit Brows,” and I loved the way they looked! Despite loving the look, when I finally decided to take the plunge and let someone else shape my eyebrows-I was still TERRIFIED.

Low and behold-they turned out beautiful. I highly suggest the brow bar. I go about 1 time per month and tweeze in between appointments. When I go for too long in between appointments I definitely notice!  An appointment costs $22.  Skin too sensitive for waxing? They will tweeze, instead! 

Before and After:
To supplement the brow bar-Benefit makes the product Brow Zings, which provides you with step by step instructions for filling in and shaping your brows-a must buy! Brow Zings contains so much product it will last you for 6 months-1 year! I have tried other brow products and nothing has even come in a close second.  
You can purchase it at these sites:

Do you have any favorite brow products?!

#brows #eyebrows #beauty #makeup