It’s that time of the year again. You’ve barely tapped into your Halloween candy and stores are already stocking up with holiday goods. Sephora is no exception. The makeup retailer has just launched its line of holiday beauty sets. The crème-de-la-crop of the collection is the Superstars gift pack.
The set includes 12 of the store’s most popular products. Every year I buy one as a gift and wind up keeping it for myself. In past years, the “limited edition” set that has become so popular, the retailer now offers it well into the summer months. The 2014 Superstars set is a steal. For just $75 you get $225 worth of goodies. Some of the products in this year’s set stand out more than others, but they are all worth a try.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz, $21
Last year, I went to the salon for a wax and came out without eyebrows. My once full defined brows looked like inchworms lying on top of my eyes. This pencil performed miracles. I had always been hesitant to use eyebrow pencils before for fear of having that “stenciled in” look. This ultra-thin pencil is simple to use and makes it easy to fill in lines that mimic real brow hairs. My only suggestion is to test out the colors in the store. They tend to be a little ashier once applied.
Benefit POREfessional, $31
I had heard people rave about this product for years, and I was sadly disappointed when I finally got my hands on it. The smell of the makeup primer is great and it left my skin feeling smooth, but once I applied foundation, the silicone formula felt thick and slippery. The filmy consistency was effective at blurring the appearance of pores, but after a few hours my makeup started to cake up and flake off. This product probably works better for people with oily skin, but for someone with a dry or combination complexion I recommend avoiding silicone based primers.
Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real Mascara, $23
I’m a mascara addict. One of Sephora’s other holiday gift sets, LashStash, is my favorite gift to open every Christmas. I’ve tried nearly every mascara on the market, yet I keep coming back to They’re Real. The name doesn’t lie, I get asked if my eyelashes are fake all the time when I’m wearing it. This mascara makes even the stubbiest lashes thick and long, without clumping like so many other brands do. Throughout the day, it doesn’t flake off or smudge and it easily glides off with makeup remover. If I could only use one makeup product for the rest of my life, this would be it.
Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray, $26
This product is perfect for achieving that wind-blown I-just-stepped-out-of-the-ocean look. Saltwater alone can dry out your hair, but this spray is infused with seaweed and kelp extracts to lock in moisture. This spray works best on straight and wavy hair types. I have naturally curly hair so I apply it to dry blown-out hair to get those effortless-looking tousled waves.
Chloè by Chloè Rollerball, $25
I’m typically one of those people who gets a migraine just walking through the fragrance department, but this perfume has a soft clean smell that is not overwhelming. It’s flirty without being overly floral and the notes of amber give it a seductive edge. The scent lasts for hours. On a few occasions I’ve even been able to get a whiff of it the next day.
Formula X for Sephora, $10.50
How many coats I apply or whether I use a top and base coat doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. I rarely go a full day without chipping my manicure. Even gel formulas usually don’t last me two days, let alone the two weeks they claim. Even with all the hype around the Formula X polishes, I wasn’t expecting to be too impressed. When I saw a shade of pink I liked I finally decided to give it a try and to my amazement the polish lasted a full five days! That was without a topcoat. Sephora offers a full system that comes with a nail cleanser, a base coat and a top coat if you want to ultimate long lasting manicure.
Fresh Sugar Rosè Tinted Lip Treatment, $22.50
Sephora offered this as its birthday gift a few years back and it was love at first pucker. If $22 sounds a little pricy for a lip balm, just wait until you try it. A full-size tube has lasted me more than six months with regular use. The balm keeps your lips smooth and moisturized all day long, so you don’t have to apply as often as you would a cheaper chap stick. It come in a variety of tints, but if you’re looking for that perfect bitten shade my favorite is rosé.
Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil, $48
Argan oil is definitely having a moment. Walk down the aisle at any beauty or drug store and just about everything from hair products to mascara is infused with this liquid gold. Many products though contain very little actual argan oil and they usually use a poor quality at that. Josie Marin Pure Argan Oil is the real deal. Apply a few drops of the oil just about anywhere for a moisturized, radiant look.
Nars Cosmetics Blush in Orgasm, $30
This peachy-pink blush looks good on nearly every skin shade. The formula is highly pigmented and will leave your cheeks glowing all day. It has a slight golden shimmer that will reflect light particles and brighten your face. It’s the perfect complement to contoured cheeks. I like to angle a bit right between my bronzer and highlighter in the contours of my cheeks.
Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35, $39
BB creams are great for moisturizing, priming and smoothing skin, but they tend not to give the best coverage. I use them on days that I don’t feel like wearing a face of heavy makeup, but need something to liven up my face. For a BB cream, Smashbox Camera Ready provides a pretty pigmented formula. Unlike other brands that only offer few color selections, this comes in a variety of shades to match any skin tone.
Stila Cosmetics Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner, $20
I have a love-hate relationship with this liquid eyeliner pen. On one hand it’s easy to use for almost any look from thick bold lines to perfect wings. True to its name, it does last all day long. I’ve slept in this stuff and woken up with it still perfectly intact. However, the pen dries out very quickly. I’ve bought several of these and sometimes it only lasts me a couple of weeks.
Urban Decay Eyeshadow, $18
Urban Decay eye shadows are my absolute favorite. They have a soft, velvety texture that glides on your lids. The colors are highly pigmented and blending them is a breeze. Even the most shimmery shades don’t fall and last all through the night. The individual shadows can get expensive so I recommend purchasing one of the brand’s highly coveted palettes.