June 27, 2015

Illamasqua Precision Brow Gel in Strike - before & after, swatches, review

Hello, Beautiful!

Brows have been a mandatory part of my beauty routine and it's one of the few beauty products that I get really, really excited to test out. I do my brows every single day, even days I'm staying in, because it makes my face feel more complete. I recently tested the Illamasqua Precision Brow Gel and it works beautifully. Check out the before & after pic, swatches and my full review below!

Illamasqua Precision Brow Gel
Shade: Strike


Illamasqua Precision Brow Gel Info & Review
Cost: $20.50 (0.2 fl oz full size)
Availability: Available on the Illamasqua website.
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Kisses


This color-rich brow gel allows you to create perfectly defined brows. In a water-resistant, cream/gel formulation available in a range of wearable, versatile shades to suit multiple skin tones and hair colors. The soft texture and long lasting properties ensure no smudging throughout the day.

Currently available in four shades: Glimpse, Awe, Stare, Strike


Illamasqua may not be as easy to find in the United States anymore (I used to get Illamasqua at Sephora), but I still love the brand. Some of their products are well worth trying to get your hands on, and I think their Precision Brow Gel is one of those products.

Now before you ask, yes I have the Anastasia Dip Brow, Too Faced Bullet Proof Brows and Tarte's Amazonian Clay Brow Mousse.... all of which are similar consistencies to the Illamasqua Precision Brow Gel, so when I started testing this out, those are what I compared it to.

First, let's talk about the shade - which I have in Strike. The kind of downside is there are only four shades, and as someone who has faithfully loved Anastasia for her amazing brow shades, I am always skeptical I will find another good match for my brows. Based on the shade descriptions and online swatches, Strike seemed to be the best match for my brows.

Here is how the Illamasqua website lists each shade description:
  • Glimpse: auburn
  • Awe: taupe
  • Stare: dark slate gray
  • Strike: dark brown
Basically, I knew Awe would be too light for me, as it seems like the option for blondes. Glimpse was also out because any red tones in my brow products look really noticeable on me since my natural brow hairs are a dark and ashy brown. Stare seemed to be too dark, and best suited for those with black hair or even gray hair. And then that leaves Strike, which I was skeptical if it would be ashy enough of a brown for my brows. 

In the jar, and especially in the photos under studio lights, Strike looks much warmer than it swatches or applies -- which is a good thing because I need an ashier tone. In person, this shade looks pretty natural in my brows. It's a good color match, but nothing has come as close as Anastasia has with brow color matching. 

Now let's talk about the application. I use a slanted brow brush; I think the one I use the most is from Sephora brand, but any thin angled brush will work, as I find it apply this type of product really easily.

It applies really smoothly and is easy to blend out with a spooley. One thing I did notice, in comparison to Anastasia's Dip Brow, is you can't go over the same area twice until it has had time to dry down. The Illamasqua formula is more of a gel feel with how smooth it is and how well it glides, but that also means it's a bit thinner and needs time to dry down before you build it up in sparse areas. Usually I don't have any issues; it just depends how much product is on my brush and how much time I have to do my brows. Rushed brows always result with me needing to go back over stuff because I hardly take my time.

Wear time is great! I never have issues with this brow product and never have to fuss with it or worry it's worn away or rubbed off on someone. It lasts all day on me without any smudging or budging. 

Everytime I wear this in my brows I always get compliments. I get compliments on my brows with the Anastasia too, so maybe I've just had some really good brow days or maybe this product is just so good that it makes me have a good brow day even if I don't try (and believe me, some mornings I barely try).

I really like this type of formula because it is quick, precise and easy. I rarely use brow powders any more; if I want a softer "more natural" look I will use a brow pencil. Don't get me wrong, I get a very natural look with this product, and if I want to make it look even more natural I will use this on the middle to the tail of my brow and then use a brow pencil on the inner part of the brow and blend everything together with a spooley. But to be honest, that takes more time and a lot of mornings I am just about using one product and getting it done. 

Overall, I really do like this brow gel and will continue to use this. The shade match might not be 100% ideal, but it works. I hope that Illamasqua expands their shade range and make some more ashy tones for us brunettes that need it.

Now let me know what you think...
What do you think of this product? Have you tried this, or would you consider adding this to your beauty wish list? Discuss in the comments below!

xoxo with love & beauty,
Crystal Valentine

Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. However, these products were sent to me for consideration. I am not being paid to make this post, nor has the company influenced me in any way. I have made this post because I wanted to, not because I had to. These are my honest opinions, thoughts and experiences.

June 25, 2015

Becca Ultimate Coverage Concealing Creme in Tahini - swatches, review

Hello, Beautiful!

I'm a big fan of the Becca Ultimate Coverage Complexion Creme, so naturally (eventually) I had to try the concealer: the Becca Ultimate Coverage Concealing Creme. Just like the foundation, the concealer is very pigmented and a little goes a long way. Check out my before & after and full review below.

Becca Ultimate Coverage Concealing Creme
Shade: Tahini


Becca Ultimate Coverage Concealing Creme Info & Review
Cost: $32.00 (0.16 oz full size)
Availability: Available on the Becca website, at Sephora, at Ulta, and everywhere else Becca Cosmetics are sold.
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Kisses


Uniquely lightweight, this creme delivers a high concentration of pigment and emollients for a undetectable, crease-proof coverage without a sticky or cakey feel.

High concentrations of pigment completely cover dark circles, imperfections, redness and hyperpigmentation. Rich emollients provide lightweight, undetectable, crease-proof coverage. Medium to full coverage (buildable).

Currently available in 12 shades.


I love the Becca Ultimate Coverage Complexion Creme so trying the concealer that goes along with it was just a matter of time. I think what held me back was selecting my shade. I wanted to be in person to do it and I was trying to avoid Sephora so I don't over spend. But inevitably I was in Sephora and heard someone else rave about this concealer, so that was my cue to go ahead and get it (I can tell myself that, right? Sure. Let's pretend that makes it okay... anyway....).

I chose the shade Tahini, which is one of their light shades. It's a great match for my skintone, but not very brightening under the eyes since it is such a close match. It does a good job at covering up my dark circles, and you can also conceal blemishes with this.

This is a very thick, creamy concealer - so a little goes a long way. For application, I prefer a brush or my fingers. I tried using a Beauty Blender to blend this out under the eyes and just wasn't happy with it. I felt it sheer'd it out far too much and with how thick this concealer is, I didn't want to build it up. A brush or finger application gives you perfect coverage and blends great.

I also find this is a very emollient concealer - similar to how the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye is... so for me, I need to set this with a powder and I recommend that you do as well. Although, it's supposed to be crease-proof and I feel it is. I find if I use too much it will leave that tacky feeling, but if you run into that issue just use less next time because a tiny bit goes a long way with this concealer!

I like this concealer, but I'm not sure how crazy I am about it as far as if I would repurchase. I'll have to see how I feel after using this up completely. I have repurchased the foundation many times... I've gone through about 4 bottles of that. It's a staple for me because of the coverage and lasting power. I feel like the concealer should be a twin sister to the foundation, and work just as wonderfully and live up to the expectations... instead it feels more like a cousin of the foundation... it's still family, but it definitely comes from a different mother or father.

I think the shade selection is pretty good, especially for those with deeper skintones. For those with fairer skintones you may find these too dark. I think I could go a shade lighter if I wanted to brighten/highlight - such as using the shade Banana -  but for now I'll work with Tahini and just add a brightener on top if I feel it's necessary.

Now let me know what you think...
What do you think of this concealer? Have you tried this, or would you consider adding this to your beauty wish list? Discuss in the comments below!

xoxo with love & beauty,
Crystal Valentine

June 23, 2015

Kat Von D Shade & Light Eye Contour Palette - swatches, review

Hello, Beautiful!

I'm a shimmer, glitter lover from birth to the day I die so the thought of an all-matte palette doesn't sound appealing to me at all. Don't get me wrong, I love matte shadows and they have their place in my eye looks almost daily, but I rarely wear an all-matte eye so an all-matte palette just sounds like a waste of money. However, I knew how much I loved the Kat Von D Shade & Light highlight/contour palette and I knew how great the Shade & Light Eye Contour palette swatched, so I went ahead and bought it. And I'm 100% glad I did.

Check out all the product info, along with my full review, after the pics!

Kat Von D
Shade & Light Eye Contour Palette

The box looks really similar to the actual palette so it may seem like I'm posting things twice.

Now onto the actual palette

Kat Von D Shade & Light Eye Palette Info & Review
Cost: $46.00 (full size)
Availability: Available on the Sephora website.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Kisses!


An eye contouring palette featuring three color quads in neutral, cool and warm shades.

Transform your eyes through the art of contouring. This palette is specially designed for eye contouring, a groundbreaking technique once used by beauty experts to define and enhance eyes. This palettes features a gorgeous, versatile array of true contouring shades, arranged into three color quads to flatter every skintone.

Three large based shadows are arranged above three coordinating powder for contouring, defining and highlighting. The palette includes easy-to-follow contouring guide with step-by-step instructions for creating three different eye-opening techniques. Each velvety powder is blendable and buildable, and it features Kat Von D's signature high-pigment, long-wear eye shadow formula, created to deliver rich color that lasts all day and night.


As I stated at the top of this post, glitter and shimmer are in the very veins that keep me alive... okay, maybe not literally, but a girl can dream right? The point is, I love me some shimmer and glitter, so matte eyes just seem a bit blah to me. Every once in a blue moon I'll do an all-matte eye and it can be a nice change, but I'm quickly back to adding some shimmer to my eyes the next day.

Still, matte shadows are so important for your eye looks - even if you want shimmer and glitter all over. You need matte for transitions, to deepen, to add smolder to your lash line, to highlight your brow bone, and the list goes on. I rarely go a day without a matte shadow in my crease, on my brow bone or as a lower lash liner color.

For me, the Kat Von D Shade & Light Eye Palette is like a best friend to every other shadow I currently own. With it's range of warm, cool and neutral shades, there is something in this palette to compliment just about every eye look. I especially LOVE the center "quad" of colors.

Yes, this is an eye contour palette and not a matte shadow palette -- but let's be honest, I'm using these more in the sense of eyeshadows instead of eye contouring. But at the same time, I guess I do contour with them to enhance my shape.

These shadows are all pigmented and buttery/velvety smooth. I did think one or two shades were slightly less pigmented but the over all swatch/application of these shadows is high quality.

I actually found myself liking these shadows so much that I have been doing more matte eye looks lately, which is a huge change for me. That middle quad is just perfect; the light shade is very pigmented and shows up nicely on my lid. Then I'll use the light taupe brown for crease, go back with the darker brow for my outer corner and then the black for my liner and it's gorgeous. It's a simple look that is perfect to pair with a bright set of hot pink or purple lips!

Overall, I'm really happy to get this palette and I'm excited that I will have all the matte shadows I need in one palette.

Now let me know what you think...
What do you think of this palette? Have you tried this, or would you consider adding this to your beauty wish list? Discuss in the comments below!

xoxo with love & beauty,
Crystal Valentine

June 22, 2015

Tarte Miraculous Maracuja Makeup Setting Spray - review [Spoiler Alert: HOLY GRAIL STATUS!!]

Hello, Beautiful!

Makeup setting sprays - and primer sprays - are one of those makeup products I can't help but try, but at the same time I'm a little skeptical of just how much they really work. Of course, being the crazy makeup obsessed person I am, I will keep trying them until I find one that I can call holy grail. So one day I was browsing the QVC website (the beauty section, of course) and saw the Tarte Miraculous Maracuja Makeup Setting Spray. I had never heard of it or seen it before, and without even reading the description I purchased it. Knowing how much I love the Tarte Maracuja oil, I was sure if anything that at least it would hydrate my skin. Let me just tell you, I'm so glad I purchased this because it's now holy grail status!!!

Check out all the product info, along with my full review, after the pics!

Miraculous Maracuja Makeup Setting Spray

Tarte Maracuja Makeup Setting Spray Info & Review
Cost: $28.00 (2.75 fl oz full size)
Availability: Available on the QVC website, eventually on the Tarte website, and everywhere else Tarte Cosmetics are sold.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Kisses!


An innovative misting spray that can be used before or after makeup application as the perfect primer or finishing touch to any makeup look.

Helps to prime and set makeup in place with the miracle of Maracuja and plant extracts. This spray helps to set makeup and is infused with good-for-you ingredients for the look of a dewy, radiant finish that will last.


First, let me start by saying at the time I wrote this article, I'm only able to find this for purchase on QVC's website. No where in the description does it say it's a QVC exclusive for such and such amount of time (which QVC normally will list), so I can't say for sure if this is a QVC exclusive or not. They may have mentioned something in an on-air presentation but I never saw this presented on-air. Of course, eventually this will be sold on the Tarte Cosmetics website, at Sephora and Ulta -- I can't imagine why it wouldn't be sold there -- but until then, if you want to get your hands on it, you'll have to go through the QVC website.

Now, let's get onto the good stuff.... let's talk about how this is the primer/setting spray to top them all!

I have used this as both a primer and a makeup setting spray and I've been using it now for a few weeks in various ways so I have a lot of input to share.

As a primer, this really impressed me. I have used other makeup setting sprays as primers before, but they never truly worked - except the one from Victoria's Secret, which has been discontinued... that stuff was great for priming! I haven't tried the Smashbox Primer Water (yet) so I can't compare that. But what I can compare is how well this spray worked as a primer compared to other makeup primers I own and use.

To use as a primer, I sprayed it four times and kind of closer to my face than I would if I were setting my makeup. I sprayed once for the forehead/nose area, once for each cheek, and once for the chin/nose area. Then I let that dry completely and proceed with my makeup application. As a primer it held my makeup in place and helped prolong the wear, just as a regular primer would - if not even better. Sure, it doesn't fill in pores or blur imperfections, but it creates a great base for your makeup to adhere to and it locks it down for hours and hours.

As a makeup setting spray, I think it works equally as well. It locks in makeup and helps prolong the wear, while also making your face less powdery if you went a little over board with powder. I do love it as a makeup setting spray, but I feel I really see this product perform as a primer. I've been using this as a primer now almost every single day. It's perfect because it is a weightless, invisible layer - and in the summer you don't want more and more layers on your face to slip, slide and melt off.

I don't know how this will work for those that have really oily skin. My skin is combo, and it leans more dry but if I'm outside in the heat I will sweat my face off in the t-zone without any hesitation. It works for my skin tone and I really hope it will work for others.

If you've been fed up or frustrated with makeup setting sprays because you don't think they really do much, then I suggest giving the Tarte Miraculous Maracuja Makeup Setting Spray a try because this stuff went above and beyond all expectations I had. I'm really impressed with this product and think it's a stand-out product worth the $28 price tag.

Now let me know what you think...
What do you think of this product? Have you tried this, or would you consider adding this to your beauty wish list? Discuss in the comments below!

xoxo with love & beauty,
Crystal Valentine

June 20, 2015

NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in Dione - swatches, review

Hello, Beautiful!

I've lusted after the NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in the shade Dione since I first swatched it in Sephora when they launched. It was such a gorgeous shade and I knew one day it had to be mine. The reason I waited to purchase is because for just this one shadow the cost is $29 - which is certainly the most I've ever paid for a single shadow. Even though it is $29, to me, it's worth every penny because the shade is gorgeous and my perfect shade.

It looks more champagne in the pan and in the photos, but it swatches and applies more taupe - which is why I love this shadow. It's just so gorgeous and has a shimmer/dimension to it that is eye catching. It's a great one lid color, which is how I've been wearing it (and I find myself reaching for it every single day because I am just that much in love with it).

Check out all the product info, along with my full review, after the pics!

NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow
Shade: Dione


NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow Info & Review
Cost: $29.00 (0.05 oz full size)
Availability: Available on the NARS website, at Sephora, and everywhere else NARS is sold.
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Kisses!


A crease-less, eight-hour wear eye shadow with a transformative texture for wet or dry application.

The Dual-Intensity Eyeshadow has smooth, versatile texture that goes on dry for a sheer soft touch of sensual color, or wet for a high-impact finish. A lasting shadow, it achieves elevated eye looks that range from romantic to bold.

Currently available in 12 shades.


When NARS first launched the Dual Intensity Eyeshadows, I knew I wanted them before I ever swatched them in person. When swatching them, I fell in love because I'm attracted to shimmering, gorgeous shadow colors and these completely fit that bill. But the $29 price tag made me hesitate to buy these... for months actually.

I finally went for it and chose the shade I was most in love with, Dione. This is described as a metallic champagne beige... and while it does appear that way in the pan, when swatched and when on my eyes, it takes on a more gray taupe shade that is really beautiful. This is my new favorite shade of life and I know I don't have anything to dupe it because of the dimension it gives when applied on your eyes.

Applying it wet or dry doesn't make a huge difference with this shade... just a bit more metallic intense-ness when applied wet, but I do know other shades have a bolder difference when applied wet. The shade Dione makes a great all-over lid color and would be flattering on just about everyone!

At $29 a piece, I don't think I'll be purchasing any more at the moment, but I would absolutely recommend this shade! For me, it's worth every penny because this is a go-to shade I can easily wear every day, day to night.

Now let me know what you think...
What do you think of this eyeshadow? Have you tried this, or would you consider adding this to your beauty wish list? Discuss in the comments below!

xoxo with love & beauty,
Crystal Valentine