Smashbox Bronze Lights Bronzer
Shade: Warm Matte
Continuing with my Sephora haul, I picked up this bronzer to try and warm up my complexion a bit as being quite fair, I can look a little washed out and pale; I decided to enlist the help of a bronzer as I’m not about to lie in the sun and tan myself as not only do I have a regular and ongoing dark spots/brightening treatment in my skincare routine and am a proponent of proper suncare, I’m also prone to getting terrible blotchy heat rashes. It’s definitely not a good look to rock on vacay or any time, really. 🙁
Although I’m a fan of a nice shimmer, the fact that this is matte is good for a more natural, everyday look and I know that I can add a touch of color to my skin without looking orange all over. In terms of usage, I used my Smashbox Telephoto 3-in-1 brush to apply this bronzer to my complexion. In addition to being very fine and smooth, the lasting power is quite strong with this product — a good 8 hours or a regular work day. As it is infused with Photoset Mineral Complex, this formula helps ensure that the skin looks sunkissed. You can use the bronzer to create a natural, fresh-faced bronzed look or for contouring, which I have done while alternating it with the contour shade that is included in the Smashbox Contour Kit.
Although there is a plethora of choices for bronzers out there, I’m going to stick with this Smashbox one as it will last me for quite some time and its quality ensures that I will get great colour and effect no matter what kind of look I’m going for <3
Smashbox Halo Perfecting Powder
Continuing with my Sephora haul, this finishing powder was all sorts of amazing when I tried it out. Formulated without parabens, oil or talc, this product gives your complexion a luminous and glowy effect and it is suitable for all skin types. Aside from the glowing radiance, the packaging of this product was interesting for me because it’s a kind of compact and loose powder hybrid: you pop open the lid of the rather chunky compact and you twist the compact where it “shaves” the right amount of powder you need for one application; I twisted it one notch to just to gauge how much product I needed and for the most part, one notch is good for a sheer/light dusting and two notches would be where you want a bit more coverage. In terms of tools, I used both my Real Techniques powder brush as well as the Smashbox Telephoto 3-in-1 Brush; both worked like a dream with the powder and then some 🙂
I’ve used this both on its own and as a finishing powder and for both scenarios, my complexion was radiant, healthy and I noticed that as the day went on, the powder blended with my complexion and looked natural; some finishing powders tend to oxidize or require a second dusting during the day and I also noticed that even with a second dusting or the odd occasion where I was a little heavy handed in the morning, the powder didn’t settle into fine lines or look cakey because of its highly hydrating formula. I’ll note here that for the most part, although it would depend on what kind of foundation or bb cream you use with the finishing powder, I’ve tried a variety of foundations and bb creams with this powder and for the most part, I’ve never had an issue with oxidization or coverage as such; even on its own the powder blended with my complexion and made me look dewy and healthy even when in reality, I was feeling a little worse for wear. After that realization, I fell in love with it <3
Believe you me, I’m stocking up on this the next time I hit up a Sephora <3
Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream Concealer
Continuing with my Sephora haul, this BB Cream Concealer is an interesting product that I alternated with my other undereye concealers to see how it could help my dark circles and dry-ass eyes. God help me on days when I need coverage the most.
Marketed as a 5-in-1 product that primes, protects, conceals, hydrates and illumines, I love the fact that the product is thick enough to conceal dark circles but it doesn’t dry out instantly so you have time to blend it all in with the rest of your base makeup without it looking cakey/crepey/or some other horrible combination. Even though it notes that this is a hydrating formula, I personally prefer to prep my eyes with the ANR II Eye Serum and the ANR II Eye cream first before I go about concealing or colour correcting as with many undereye concealers that I’ve tried before in the past, if I don’t prep the area well before concealing, the concealed area can look cakey and dry fairly soon before dissipating off of my face — it might not even make it past noon 🙁
In terms of application, I love how this is a twist-and-click pen that took a couple twists to get it going the first time but afterwards, two clicks dispensed enough product for both of my undereye areas; in addition the brush made application a dream as I would first swipe it on before blending it out with my ring finger. In addition, I’ve also used this concealer for redness on my forehead and it blended out quite awesomely; on the other hand, it didn’t do too well on acne scars as it wasn’t the right consistency to cling onto dark discoloured patches like that; you need a separate concealer for that. 🙁
All in all, this was a good undereye concealer that blended well with my Smashbox Camera Ready BB Water Foundation as well as other foundations in my arsenal that were of a similar tone and it could double as a highlighter for your face when purchased in the right (lighter) shade; I love products that can multi-task <3
Smashbox Camera Ready BB Water Foundation
Continuing with my Sephora haul, I picked up this product because I was curious as to how a BB product would work as a fluid, watery texture as opposed to the usual lotion or even cream-like consistency. Housed in a handy pump-dropper bottle, this foundation is travel-friendly and the dropper helps dispense the right amount every time, making it much easier to gauge the amount one needs for their coverage preferences.
What I liked about this formula is that it comes with SPF 30 and it doesn’t carry the usual oily or heavy texture that normally comes with foundations with that kind of SPF coverage; the foundation went on light and it felt light all day 🙂 This is definitely a sheer-to-medium coverage kind of foundation where if you have less-than-perfect (in a relative sense here, people) skin, you’ll need to either a) dot gently on imperfections to conceal or b) use a separate concealer to do so. Being an oil-free formula, I was quite surprised as to how hydrating it still felt on my skin, and it gave me a semi-matte finish to begin with in the morning that became a glowy and radiant finish that lasted all day; I must stress that in no way do I mean that it has terrible staying power because it gave me a glowy look. I’m definitely a fan of the natural dewy, glowy and radiant look; after a full work day of approximately 8 hours with no touchups, my makeup still looked intact and fresh enough.Having combination-dry skin meant that I had to blot a little on my t-zone at the end of the day, but gosh, my makeup looked as fresh as it did in the morning as it did at the end of the day.
With this foundation, I used it alone as well as with bases that I had on my rotation to test drive its holding power (namely, the Smashbox Photofinish Primer, Make Up For Ever Radiance Primer and the Bobbi Brown SPF 50 Makeup Base); I noticed that the Bobbi Brown one made the foundation a little too dewy-looking even for my taste at the end of the day, and this is most likely because of its lotion-like consistency combined with a high SPF coverage. The other two most definitely was able to help the foundation hang on just that much better than when I used the foundation on its own, where it melted and blended into my skin at the end of the day and I felt that the coverage also went with it as well to give me a less-than-perfect look; this is fine when I’m just out and about on the weekend, but I would definitely want to touch up if it were a (long) work day.
At the end of the day, I would repurchase this product as I can’t go wrong with bringing just this bottle with me on trips because I feel that this foundation can help my makeup look in giving my skin an extra oomph for radiance while still giving me the choice to build up its coverage without looking cakey or dry. This is a winner in my book <3
Smashbox Step-By-Step Contour Kit
Continuing with my Sephora haul, this contour kit from Smashbox is actually the first contouring palette I own as I find that being able to correctly contour one’s face is an art that needs to be mastered in order to aptly define and sculpt facial features; however, having said that, I’m not a professional makeup artist; I just happen to love makeup and enjoy trying out new products. My secret fear is looking like I contoured too much in the morning and walking around with unsightly brown patches on my face; this also rings true with bronzer, where I’ll actually look orange if I overdo it because I have quite fair skin; now, combine that with not contouring your face right and it’s…unattractive to say the least.
With a heavy heart, I walked towards the Makeup Station at Sephora and the Beauty Advisor there helped me out; being your regular earthling, I wasn’t quite ready for doing the stick foundation contouring, or doing the multi-step contouring process that is trending on Pinterest and (professional makeup) blogs; I’m just looking for something that even a newbie with a modicum of knowledge about holding onto a contouring brush, a simple, all-inclusive contouring palette that clearly indicates what the shades would be for and referring to a diagram that mapped out where to contour/highlight/bronze up for my particular face shape and I would be good to go.
This Contour Palette set from Smashbox was bang-on with everything that I needed: a proper angled contouring brush, clearly labeled shades and step-by-step tips on defining and sculpting every face shape (both on the mirror and as a small leaflet included with the set). I found it quite easy to follow and use; I will note here that it took a bit of trial and error on my part to using the right amount of the contouring shade first, then highlighting the right spots before warming up my complexion a bit with the bronzer that is included, or in the separate Smashbox Matte Bronzer that I also acquired.
I will note here that less is definitely more with contouring and highlighting; the powders are finely milled and buildable for one to dust on a little each time to help build the right amount of depth and dimension so that the natural contours of your face can be revealed. I would suggest doing your contouring and highlighting in a room where there is natural (enough) lighting so you can more accurately gauge how much more contouring/highlighting that you need for your face shape or occasion (i.e. work, night out, etc.).
All in all, I’m glad that I picked this contouring palette out because as a newbie, I had relatively few issues with learning how to use it; the diagrams and instructions were clear and easy to follow. If you’re new to this contouring business, or you just wanted to try out a high-quality palette that has it all clearly laid out for you, give this one a shot! What I feel is more important is that you get to know what works for your face shape so you can master it and bring out a more beautiful and defined look <3
Smashbox Telephoto 3-in-1 Face Brush
For someone who is not a makeup professional, using the right brushes can be a daunting task and it’s easy to get sucked into getting lots of different brushes and never getting to use all of them. As part of my Sephora haul, I picked up this 3-in-1 face brush as I was in the market for a retractable travel face brush as my last one was a little worse for wear and the hair was starting to fall out from the brush.
In terms of packaging, the brush is housed in a nice metal case where you would twist and click the brush into place to get the right coverage: once for a dense brush that is great for buffing and blending (full coverage), twice for a looser brush (medium coverage) and thrice for a full fluffy brush that’s perfect for dusting/finishing off your makeup with a loose powder (light coverage). The brush(es) did what it was supposed to do and I’m definitely bringing this along in my travel kit to eliminate at least two to three other brushes that I would otherwise have to bring.
I chose this brush because I got three different brushes all in one convenient and snazzy tube that is travel- and user-friendly, regardless of your makeup skills. From light dusting to full coverage, I tried this brush out with various face powders and foundations as well as bronzer and blush to try out the coverage and effectiveness of this product. Since I use this brush for a variety of products, it’s important to keep it clean; I would suggest washing the brush every two weeks with a baby shampoo/proper brush cleanser if using to apply powder, or every week if using to apply liquid foundation.
All in all, I would definitely pop out and give this brush a shot if you’re looking to minimize your travel makeup gear or you’re looking for a great brush from a solid brand to add to your arsenal as either a beginner or professional <3
Smashbox Iconic Photofinish Foundation Primer
Continuing with my Sephora haul, I’ve always wanted to try out Smashbox’s cult favourite, the Photofinish Foundation Primer that preps your skin to create a perfect canvas for flawless foundation application. A makeup primer can make or break your makeup look and enhance your skin’s condition, so I’m particularly picky in finding the right type for my sensitive, combination-dry skin.
Housed in a no-fuss, travel-friendly squeeze tube, a little bit really goes a long way as its silky blend of vitamins and antioxidants smoothes and perfects skin and fills in fine lines and pores for a flawless finish. To test this out, I squeezed out a dime-sized amount onto my palm and smoothed it all over my face with my fingers after I’d finished prepping my skin with my regular skincare routine. I’ve tried this primer both alone and under foundation, and in both cases, the primer filled in my pores and evened out my skin’s texture; on the other hand, when I combined this with any of my foundations on rotation, it also made my makeup look better and last longer.
I will note here that this is most definitely a silicone-heavy primer so if your skin really does not fare well with that ingredient, I would steer clear and possibly check out silicone-free options, such as the fantastic Hourglass Veil Primer and the Bobbi Brown SPF Protective Base. I lucked out and my skin was unscathed from the silicone formula, and my skin and makeup looked amazing <3
As such, I most definitely will be stocking up on this primer whenever I pop into a Sephora, order it online or cross my fingers and hope that they open up a Smashbox counter here in Hong Kong <3
Smashbox Primer Water
Volume: 3.9oz | 115ml
As part of my Sephora haul, I got this product as a way to try out a proper setting spray by a cult brand; touted as a multi-tasking makeup spray, Smashbox notes that one can get the all-in-one effect of priming and hydrating the complexion to get an overall sheer radiance. As such, I’ve used it in the following ways to really put this product to the test:
- I spritz this onto my face as a (very) lightweight primer before I apply my other makeup bases as well as just foundation right afterwards;
- I spritz this onto my freshly made-up face as a setting spray;
- I decanted some of this into a smaller spray bottle — Sephora sells the travel size but I happened to just get the full-sized bottle only — and spritzed this midday to refresh my complexion
Personally, I liked the fact that this spray is free of silicones, perfumes, alcohol and oils and thus my skin was unscathed; in fact, it felt a little more hydrated than usual and my makeup did seem to last a little longer. With this in mind, I didn’t quite like it when I used it as Option A as noted above, as I actually like smoothing on a physical primer/make-up base on my face before doing my makeup; I didn’t feel that this did much for me as an under-makeup primer even though Smashbox notes that this is one of its usages. I much prefer to use Smashbox’s Photofinish Primer to prep my face first, then my regular makeup and then setting it all with this spray. That way, my makeup seriously didn’t budge and my complexion looked fresh and hydrated throughout the day <3
All in all, this is one of those products that was nice to try out and use from a wonderful cult brand, but it’s not a must-have as you can also make do with another spray toner of your choice based on your skin’s condition.
Vancouver Haul (Part 1): Marcelle & Sephora
On Boxing Day, I went a little crazy when I landed at Sephora during my shopping trip out in downtown Vancouver. 1.5 hours later and it was a done deal:
- Smashbox Primer Water
- Smashbox Photofinish Primer
- Smashbox Telephoto Face Brush
- Smashbox Step-By-Step Contour Kit
- Smashbox BB Water Foundation
- Smashbox Halo Perfecting Powder
- Smashbox BB Cream Concealer
- Smashbox Bronze Lights Bronzer
In addition, back in July 2015, I’d ordered a couple items from Marcelle since I couldn’t get this amazing Canadian brand in Hong Kong:
- Marcelle Ideal Skin Perfector
- Marcelle Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel
- Marcelle DD Cream
- Marcelle BB Cream
- Marcelle BB Roll-on Concealer
Reviews to follow later <3