Monday, January 25, 2016

2015 beauty favorites.

The best of 2015.
2015 was a great year for my beauty collection, thanks largely to Ipsy. I discovered new brands, fell in love with old favorites, and had a lot of fun experimenting with my beauty routine. Take a look at my roundup of top products (and see what's changed since 2013, the last time I did a post like this).

Best Moisturizer: Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief
While Clinique's yellow lotion will always be a makeup bag staple, the Moisture Surge edition is just what my skin has been craving this year. I have pretty normal skin for the most part. Sometimes, however, I do get dry patches. That's why this gel is perfect. It's incredibly light, it soaks into my skin instantly, and it keeps my face hydrated all day long.

Best Eye Cream: Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream
I like to try a new eye cream each time I finish an old one. This Origins one is my latest discovery. I love how the formula is creamy but not greasy. It absorbs quickly and leaves my under eye area looking fresh and bright.

Best Face Primer: Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer
Although I don't use face primer on a daily basis, I will break it out when I'm traveling or when I know I have a long day ahead of me. This one by Smashbox keeps my makeup in place all day. I know I never have to worry about my foundation or concealer sliding around with this on.

Best Eye Primer: Urban Decay Anti-Aging Eyeshadow Primer Potion
I think I'll always be a Nars eye primer lover, but this anti-aging formula by Urban Decay has won me over this year. It looks invisible when applied and definitely helps to boost shadow pigmentation and lasting power. I haven't necessarily noticed any anti-aging effects, but I haven't noticed any wrinkles either, so that's a good sign!

Best Concealer (tie): Clinique Line Smoothing Concealer (04 Medium) and L'Oreal MagicLumi Highlighter (862 Light)
These two are tried and true favorites. The Clinique one is my go-to for any face blemishes or discolorations. It is a perfect color match for me. I always apply this before my foundation to create a more flawless look. As for the MagicLumi pen, I can't imagine my makeup bag without it. I'm currently on my third one and have no plans to stray to other brands at the moment. It covers and brightens my under eye circles like nothing else.

Best Foundation: Clinique Superbalanced Powder Makeup (04 Natural)
This was a rediscovery product for me. I've had it in my collection for a while and picked it up again this spring when I started to get more color. In general, I prefer light liquid foundations and BB creams for their dewy, natural finish. This powder, however, looks so natural on my skin that I've temporarily forgotten about my liquid foundations!

Best Powder: Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder (020 Nude Beige)
I know this powder is a favorite for a number of beauty bloggers, mostly because it's an amazing product for a great price. I use this every day after applying my face makeup to keep my skin oil-free. It works like a charm and, for the price, you can't get any better.

Best Bronzer: NYC Smooth Skin Bronzing Face Powder (720A Sunny)
This is another drugstore favorite. It borders the line between a bronzer and a light contour powder. I use it for both purposes. I love how natural it looks. It adds just enough color and definition to use all year round.

Best Highlighter: Temptu S/B Highlighter in Pink Pearl
I have to thank Ipsy for this product. I had never heard of Temptu until I received this in one of my monthly bags. I'm so glad I got it! I am now a huge fan of liquid highlighter. This one blends so nicely and leaves the perfect glow.

Best Eyeshadow (tie): Urban Decay Naked palette and theBalm Nude Dude Eyeshadow in Fit
The Naked palette is an obvious choice, so I won't ramble on about it. I will say that it is the only palette I brought with me to Italy, which I think speaks volumes about its versatility and value for money. My other favorite is a beautiful bronze single shadow from theBalm. I am a huge fan of this brand for its sassy product names and color selections. Bronze is probably my most worn shadow color, so I've definitely gotten a lot of use out of it.

Best Pencil Eyeliner: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Smog
Speaking of Urban Decay and bronze colors, this pencil liner is a must! It combines my favorite brand with my favorite color. It looks beautiful with brown eyes. I love how it can be drawn straight on or smudged out for a slightly smoky look. Plus, these 24/7 pencils don't lie when they say they last all day.

Best Liquid Eyeliner: Starlooks Pro Luxe Longwear Eyeliner Pen
After I finished my e.l.f. liquid liner at the beginning of this year, I held off on buying a new one so I could experiment with other liners in my collection. This Starlooks liner was the first pen I ever tried, and I really like it. Not only is it the blackest liner I own, but it also stays on all day. My only qualm is that removing it is kind of a mess. It comes off in little clumps when I run my eye makeup remover over it. It does last all day though, so I'll take the trade-off.

Best Mascara: Lancome Hypnose Star Mascara in 01 Noir Midnight
I go through mascara pretty regularly, so I've been able to try out a number of brands and formulas. This Lancome one is fantastic for creating length and volume. Although it isn't the blackest black, it does have that thick, lasting formula that I love. I never have to worry about my mascara flaking when I wear this.

Best Lip Gloss: Laura Mercier Lip Glace in Blush
Prior to discovering this lip gloss, I was firmly a lipstick girl. Laura Mercier has me rethinking things! This gloss goes on so smoothly and delivers an impressive color payoff. Plus, it smells remarkably like vanilla cupcakes. Talk about yum.

Best Lipstick: Hikari Lipstick in Cabernet
Another Ipsy find! I was in love with this lipstick at first swipe. The color works well year round, although I think it is particularly suited to fall and winter. This is also one of the only lipsticks I own that doesn't require a lip liner. It lasts an absurdly long time too.

Best Lip Liner: Clinique Quickliner for Lips in 35 Rich Red
Clinique wins the lip liner battle for its retractable pencil design alone. I love that I always have a defined point to draw with. As for the color, it is the perfect base for all my red lipsticks. It even keeps my red Laura Mercier lipstick, which loves to spread all over my face, in place!

Best Perfume: Kim Kardashian Gold
Don't knock it until you try it! I may not watch the Kardashians on TV, but I love this perfume. In fact, this is my second bottle! The scent is very tropical, with vanilla, citrus, and spicy undertones. It works just as well in the summer as it does in the winter.

Those are my 2015 faves! Have you tried any of these? Do you know any similar products that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments!



Monday, January 11, 2016

milan at christmastime.

It's not the Rockefeller Center tree, but it still looks pretty nice!
The Duomo looks magnificent, as always.
One of the many food stands that caught my eye.
I thought my ciambella alla crema would taste much better than it actually did.
La Rinascente went all out on their holiday display!
Prosciutto pizza dinner at Spontini.
All in all, another fun visit to Milano!
After my first stint in Italy, I thought that Rome was my favorite Italian city. Recently, however, Milan has been growing on me. I went there at the beginning of December to check out the Christmas tree and the holiday market and was impressed by just how magical the city looked. For me, the best part of the night was when the fog began to descend upon the Duomo and make the piazza look like a winter wonderland.

I also loved strolling around the holiday market and taking a look at the cute gifts that were for sale. While I didn't buy any presents, I did get a ciambella alla crema, or a cream-filled donut, and a cheese pretzel. Although the donut was unfortunately very dry, the warm cheese pretzel was the perfect treat for a chilly evening. I wrapped things up with a slice of pizza from the famous Spontini. If you're ever in Milan, make sure to order a slice! I went for prosciutto this time, but the Margherita looked equally delicious.



P.S. Have you seen my travel articles on The Holiday Girl? Check them out here!

Monday, January 4, 2016

goals for 2016.

Learning how to take a better selfie should probably be on my list of resolutions. Oh well!
I can honestly say that 2015 was one of the most memorable years of my life. I finished not one, but two theses, graduated college, moved abroad, and began working all over the course of the past 12 months. I have no idea what's in store for 2016, but I'm excited by the prospect of more big life changes!

With the arrival of the new year, I've been thinking more and more about what I want to accomplish. Here are a few of my goals for 2016. I'm saying goals, and not resolutions, because I like the idea of a goal as something positive that I would like to accomplish, but also something that I won't be too torn up about if it doesn't happen. Also, I tried to make these as specific as possible so that I can really feel like I've accomplished them.

GOAL #1 - Plank every day.
I know fitness is a resolution for most people every new year. Personally, I think I did a pretty good job with exercising regularly in 2015. For 2016, I'd like to keep it up. Planking everyday is an easy way to target one area and remind me to work the rest of my body as well.

GOAL #2 - Write more.
After graduation, I decided I wanted to focus more on my blog. It's a nice way for me to be creative and share my interests with others. I want to continue my routine of posting every Monday (at least!). I also want to write more in general, whether that be on creative pieces, freelance articles, or journal entries. I love writing and I want to take advantage of every opportunity I get.

GOAL #3 - Go to a spa.
This is my indulgence goal! I've never been to a spa before, but I love the idea of getting a facial or a massage. It sounds like such a dream! Plus, I like treating myself to little luxuries every so often, especially if I've been working hard in other areas of my life.

GOAL #4 - Make homemade pasta.
If you've read any of my food or travel posts, you'll probably realize that I am a serious foodie at heart. I love trying new things and eating seriously yummy food. Of course, I also LOVE to cook and bake. This year, my goal is to make more handmade food. I've eaten homemade pasta before, but creating ravioli or tortellini by myself would be such a personal accomplishment.

GOAL #5 - Send a letter to a faraway friend.
Now that I'm out of college (and in another country!), it has gotten harder to stay in touch. While I love Skype and email for catching up with my friends, I like the idea of sending a handwritten letter or personal care package to someone out of the blue. It's a nice way to show others that you're thinking of them even when you're far away.

What about you? What are your goals/resolutions for 2016? I'd love to hear them in the comments!