Real Techniques Expert Face Brush
This brush has been somewhat overshadowed by my affection for the Real Techniques Buffing Brush, but I've been using it for the majority of August, and my feelings steadily grew to definite love. This is just excellent for slapping on any base — from a tinted moisturiser (more on that later) to a more full coverage foundation. The shape reminds me of a cross between a kabuki brush and a traditional foundation brush. I use it in downward and sideways strokes, rather than in circular motions as I would the Buffing Brush, but it still blends the product effortlessly due to the density of the bristles. You can also use it in a stippling motion to get rid of any streaks. The best thing about this brush is the way it can navigate tricky areas like around the nose or the edges of the mouth. The more precise, straight edge (as opposed to rounded) really lets you to get right in there for a seamless finish. It's also brilliant for cream blush and, I imagine, contouring with a cream pigment or bronzer, though I haven't personally tried it for that purpose.
NARS Bronzing Powder in Laguna
I don't know what took me so long to get my hands on Laguna, but I'm so glad I did. Since this arrived with my NARS Lose Yourself Set, I've been thoroughly obsessed. While I don't really care for the Angelika blush that comes with the blush/bronzer duo, I know the Laguna side will get a tonne of wear. I've firmly incorporated Laguna in my daily routine since receiving it, using my Models Prefer Mystique Angled Blush Brush for a soft contour, or the Real Techniques Powder Brush for more of an all-over bronzed effect. It's sheerer and more of a warm, golden tone than the darker, slightly muddier Benefit Hoola (which I prefer for more serious contouring), which makes it ideal for everyday wear. The texture is really easy to work with and the colour just seems to agree with me. For now, I can't imagine finding anything that will top Laguna in my book, though I'm always open to the possibility of being proven wrong.
NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base
A sample size was included with the NARS And God Created the Woman Eye Kit, and I was eager to see how this eye primer (a favourite of Lisa Eldridge) stacked up against others I'd used, like Urban Decay Primer Potion, LORAC Behind the Scenes Eye Primer, or even just regular cream eyeshadows from MAC, Revlon and Maybelline. While it's quite the challenge to get any product out from the tiny tube, I can see why this primer would be very effective for those with oily lids. Once you whack this on and place a powder eyeshadow on top, it's not going to budge. If I've blended a very small amount of this primer over my lid, and make a minor mistake with my eye makeup, like drawing my eyeliner too far, I can't just rub it off with my finger as I normally would because the primer is making that eyeliner cling on for dear life. It's almost like it works by drying out the texture of anything placed over it so it's virtually stuck to the lids.
Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser SPF20 in Nude
This stuff is truly amazing, to the extent that I would say it's approaching HG status. I haven't tried the oil-free version to compare (though I'm curious to, given it seems to be the more popular choice among beauty bloggers), but I'm completely content with the original one. The shade I have, Nude, is slightly too dark for me at the moment, but nothing too noticeable. This just gives the most natural finish to the skin while perfecting it in a very subtle but powerful way. I've already devoted an entire post to it, including a side-by-side before and after comparison. This is now my preferred base if I'm going out on the weekend, replacing my Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector (Combination to Oily Skin) which previously was part of my go-to low-key makeup. It's superior to the Garnier in every way, the most significant of which is the way it blends into the skin. The Garnier is quite liquid and requires a decent amount of effort to be thoroughly worked into the skin. The Laura Mercier just melts into the skin with barely any effort. I even wore this to work one day which is completely unheard of, since I've always used a proper foundation. It held up from morning to night just fine, if not better, than some of my regular, albeit lighter coverage foundations, like Benefit Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow SPF 25 and Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup SPF 20.
Maybelline EyeStudio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner in Blackest Black
For whatever reason, my eyes began to get irritated when I used my Australis 10 Hour Waterproof Eye Pencil in Bombastic Bronze to define my lower lash line. At first I thought it might've just been a one-off thing, but when the problem persisted over the course of several days, I ditched the Australis and reverted to my trusty ol' Maybelline gel eyeliner using a Manicare angled brush. If anything, I like the result more than the bronze eyeliner pencils I'd been exclusively wearing. I always make sure to lightly dip my brush into the pot and then draw the first few strokes on my hand to soften the intensity of the black before applying it on my lower lash line. Using a minuscule amount of product, I get a much more precise, thin line which lasts the whole day and doesn't look harsh or too dark at all. I've had this pot for ages. It hasn't dried out and there's still 90% left.
Benefit seriously know how to make a good blush. Sure, they might not be the most daring, fashion-forward, bold or unique colours, but they're universally flattering, girly shades that just look good on the skin. Hervana was something I was so excited to buy when I was in the States last year, since there was slim chance I'd be willing to part with $51 for it here. I'm not sure whether I love it as much as Sugarbomb, but it comes pretty damn close. This is one of the very few pink blushes that I don't hate on me. It's a perfect specimen of an everyday blush that I really don't show enough appreciation for. A gem in my blush collection.
l-r: NARS Pro-Prime, NARS Laguna, Laura Mercier Nude, Benefit Hervana, Maybelline Blackest Black